FBI New York
FBI New York Press Office
(212) 384-2100
June 20, 2024

Safe Online Surfing During Summer Break

With summer break beginning for schools across the region, Assistant Director in Charge (ADIC) Jim Smith of the FBI's New York Field Office is warning the public about the dangers related to online surfing and urging families to take precautions to keep themselves—and their children—safe from online predators.  

Children and students are spending more time on the Internet than ever before, whether for social media, school, or leisure activities. For many children, Internet use is heightened even more during the summer as children may have more downtime to “surf” online, keep in touch in with friends on social media, and utilize online gaming. 

However, many dangers lurk online. These dangers include cyber bullies, online predators, and identity thieves. “Be it through social media or other online messaging apps, predatory criminals use many techniques to victimize individuals, including children,” explained ADIC Smith. “Though technology continues to advance, there are steps that parents, educators, and children can take to be safe online.” 

The following advice can help you keep your children safe: 

Advice for Children 

  • Keep your accounts private. 
  • Do not accept requests from strangers. Block or ignore messages from strangers. 
  • Remember that once something is posted or sent, it can never be taken back. Even when something is deleted from social media, there is still a record somewhere in the cloud. 
  • Be selective about the information and pictures you share online. Know and assume that any content you create online – texts, photos and/or videos – can and will be made public, permanently.  Nothing "disappears" online.  Once you send something, you have no control over where it goes. 
  • Understand that people can pretend to be anything/anyone online and that images can be altered or stolen. 
  • Be suspicious and stop communicating if you meet someone on one app, and they ask you to move to a different platform. 
  • If you feel overwhelmed or victimized, do not hesitate to ask for help, including that of law enforcement. Do not feel ashamed to report crimes. 

Advice for Adults 

  • Openly communicate with your children about online activity and possible victimization. 
  • Place limits on internet use. 
  • Consider shutting down Wi-Fi overnight. 
  • Know and maintain passwords to phones, tablets, and computers. 
  • Spot check phones, tablets, and computers and know what apps are being used and what is being downloaded. 
  • Ensure social media settings are set at the strictest level possible. 
  • Monitor who is in communication with your child and what is being said. 

“Considering the many dangers that lurk on the internet—from child predators to cyberbullies to malicious software—it’s imperative that our young people learn the ins and outs of online safety from an early age,” said ADIC Smith. “It’s vital that they know the basic guidelines for staying safe online.”  

The FBI has also developed a free computer literacy program called Safe Online Surfing, or SOS, which covers important topics like cyber bullying, passwords, and social media. This resource is used widely by schools throughout the United States. During the 2022-23 school year, 19,735 schools participated in the challenge, with more than 1.6 million students nationwide completing the program. If you are interested in learning more about the Safe Online Surfing program—go to sos.fbi.gov.  

If you become aware that your child may be a victim, do not attempt to take matters into your own hands and communicate with the predator. Immediately contact the local police, 1-800-CALL-FBI (1-800-225-5324), or FBI New York at 212-384-1000. As always, if you have been victimized by cyber fraud of any kind, file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3.gov).