A study from Internet Service Partners ranked Virginia and Maryland as among the top 10 most dangerous states for kids online.
Most people think online safety relies heavily on behavior.
“A lot of activities have moved on to the internet, video games, to connecting with friends. Kids aren’t going outside as much, but they are connecting with friends on the internet. And you can talk to strangers now through simple video games,” said Sandra Canuto, clinical social worker.
The study says location plays a key role. Despite the majority of the states on the list originating from the south and west, both Maryland and Virginia made their way to the top 10.
The study breaks down recent analytics and data on these five categories: malware infection rates, youth victims of internet crime, state education rank, cyber-bullying laws and youth mental illness.
Experts from the Mental Health Center of Western Maryland agree that mental health contributes to the problem and add that it’s the responsibility of adults to make sure kids receive the correct message.
“Helping children to understand themselves as they are developing, the world is ever-developing, other relationships that are positive and negative, and being able to do a better job of filtering those,” said Terri Lancaster, outpatient services coordinator.
The study also offers ways to keep kids protected. The Mental Health Center and study agreed that open communication between kids and parents is important.
“Children love technology. That’s a reality, but I think kids also want a balance. And they like positive, constructive activities with adults,” said Sarah Westndorff, outpatient therapist.