Breaking News
More () »

'Think about what you post or share': Students learn about online dangers from Maine State Police

MSP Detective Joe Royle says earlier this year, his investigative unit was looking into more than 600 cyberattacks targeting kids and teens in Maine.

MADISON, Maine — A detective from the Maine State Police is teaching students to protect themselves in this connected world.

Nowadays, the internet is full of endless information for young minds to explore, but many are vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Wednesday morning, MSP Detective Joe Royle spoke to students from Madison Junior High School and Madison Area Memorial High School about how to stay safe while navigating online.

Royle said that earlier this year, his investigative unit was looking into more than 600 cyberattacks targeting kids and teens in Maine.

Some of the main topics affecting children include cyberbullying, sexting, gaming, and live streaming.

Royle said there are easy things families can do to stay safe.

"The average age right now of a child to get a smartphone is 10 years old in the United States, but that's getting younger so it's a matter of the educating of the parents as well as the child to know there are things out there to help them. There is a monitoring software, there are things they can do to limit the access a child has initially and to learn and grow and develop their good habits online right from the very first age. As soon as the kid has a device it's time to start talking to them," he said.

Tuesday night, Royle spoke to their parents and gave them tips on how to talk with their children about the dangers online. He said as soon as a child starts using any online device, parents need to start teaching them about online safety.

"Online predators are a nasty horrible group, but they are a group. They are not just going to keep it to themselves. They are going to swap it. They are going to trade it like baseball cards," he said.

Royle reminded parents about the importance of always knowing who their kids talk to, where they spend their time online, and what they are doing.

"I have two daughters myself and they both have devices, and the internet can be a scary thing and it could also be a very useful thing, so I just wanted to see any updates or again, what to look out for and anything that could be useful for me as a parent and to help out my kids," Gabe Robins, a parent of two girls who attended Tuesday nights presentation, said.

"People are unaware of what's actually out there, what their child can access," the detective added.

These presentations by the Maine State Police are available to parents and students throughout the state free of charge. For more information, people can reach out to Sgt. Jessica Shorey at jessica.r.shorey@maine.gov and Det. Joe Royle at martin.g.royle@maine.gov