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Maine ranks among lowest at protecting kids online: national study finds

A recent study gives Maine a 'D' rating when it comes to protecting kids from things like cyberbullying and sexting.

PORTLAND, Maine — When it comes to protecting children online, a new study shows Maine has some work to do.

Safewise.com gave the state a 'D' rating. It found Maine to be one of just five states with the least supportive laws to protect children from online threats like cyberbullying and sexting.

So what can parents do to keep their kids safe online? Those with the Maine Emergency Management Agency weighed in.

"If the conversation starts getting inappropriate or they're asking for pictures, locations or for somebody to meet them somewhere," Susan Faloon with MEMA said. "Those are definitely some red flags you should be aware of."

While there are apps that have been created for parent's to monitor activity, Faloon really believes something as simple as open and honest dialogue with your child about what they are doing online can be just as efficient.

"As parents, it's just really important to go back to the basics," Faloon said. "Sit down with your children for dinner and ask them what's going on in their lives."

Some red flags parents should look out for are things like seclusion or secrecy. Faloon says if your child is spending more time in their room or alone while using devices or if they're being secretive about who or what they are doing online -- it might be time for a conversation.

She says it's also important for kids to understand the possible dangers that come from adding someone they don't know on social media, warning about serious consequences that could come from sharing sensitive information -- like their location or date of birth -- online.

"As much as we want to trust our kids, they're kids, and they don't always think rationally," Faloon said. "It's really up to parents to stay on top of their activities and make sure that they are protected."

For a full list of ways to keep your child safe online, click here.

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