The skyrocket progression of the internet is truly something to behold. What started out as a luxury found only on boxy computer monitors with painfully slooooow dial-up capabilities can now be found at lightning speed in the hands and pockets of nearly everyone on the planet—teens included.

And while the idea of our kids having the world at their fingertips is kind of incredible, it also poses its own set of challenges and concerns. Specifically: internet safety.

Sure, parents know they need to talk to their kids about online predators, but what they might not realize is that these predators are now able to target minors through some of the common apps they frequent daily, including games like Fortnite. 

That’s right, Fortnite. The incredibly popular game SO MANY of our kids are attached to around the clock. The chat capabilities on this game (and other popular platforms like Kik, Wishbone, Discord, Tumblr and Minecraft) make it easier than ever for strangers to contact underage users, and unfortunately, that contact isn’t always innocent in nature.

New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal announced last week that 24 arrests had been made of suspects who had been caught in inappropriate conversation with minors they had contacted online. Among the suspects apprehended? A police sergeant.

The busts were made when Task Force members posing as teenagers agreed to meet up with the suspects, who were then promptly arrested upon their arrival.

It’s a sobering reminder of the danger lurking on the internet when it comes to our kids.

The nature of the internet era makes it likely that it’s not if our kids will be contacted by a stranger online, but when. This means we need to be extra vigilant in teaching them to not only avoid talking to anyone they don’t personally know, but also what to do when the situation arises.

It’s scary that we even have to have this awareness in the back of our minds, but parents—we so do.

Kids are never too old to have their internet usage monitored, and they’re certainly never too old to be reminded about the responsibility that comes with living in such an interconnected world.

Talk to your kids . . . today.

Casey Huff

Casey is a middle school teacher turned stay-at-home-mama to three littles. It's her mission as a writer to shine light on the beauty and chaos of life through the lenses of motherhood, marriage, and mental health. To read more, go hang out with Casey at: Facebook: Bouncing Forward Instagram: @bouncing_forward