VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — As the United States weathers another spike in COVID-19 infections, your children may be once again spending more time on their phones, tablets and computers.
Security experts, including Virginia Beach-based cyber investigator Len Gonzales, say it’s important to be aware of what apps your child is downloading and using.
Gonzales’ investigative career goes back decades, including more than 20 years as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Navy and nine years with Naval Criminal Investigative Service.
“You name the crime, I promise you that I worked it,” Gonzales said. “I got really good at it and now I’m able to help people get out of the trouble they find themselves in online.”
Today, Gonzales owns his own cyber investigations company and he wrote a book aimed at helping parents understand cyberspace and how to keep their kids safe in it.
“Predators are always online, by the tens of thousands, and they will be in environments where your kids are,” he said. “Eventually, they’re going to come into contact with each other.”
The solution, according to Gonzales, is to teach your children to interact safely online and keep an eye on what they’re doing.
“Be engaged with your children so you know what they’re doing online,” Gonzales said.
While it might be tempting to keep up with current lists of the “most dangerous” apps, Gonzales said there’s a better way to protect your kids.
“It’s more important to understand the concept behind apps instead of chasing apps, because technology is going to change, interests that kids have are going to change,” he said.
Gonzales advises parents to look out for three types of apps: hidden, self-destructing and live broadcasting apps.
“Hidden apps are the ones that hide photos, videos, text messages and other apps even in their entirety,” he said. “Self-destructing apps are apps designed to destroy messages, destroy photos, destroy any trace of what it is you’re doing and who you’re doing it with.”
Finally, live broadcasting apps, which Gonzales says are perhaps the most dangerous category:
“Those live broadcasting apps get activated in a person’s bedroom, in their bathroom, somewhere in their home that’s personal to them,” he said. “They’re sharing either part of themselves or a lot of information that’s on a personal level with people all over the globe.”
In our next Navigating the Net installment, Gonzales explains how to detect these three categories of apps and explains how to properly monitor devices and talk to your children about online safety.
Look for that part of the story on WAVY News 10 Today on Monday, January 31 starting at 4:30 a.m.