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Expert weighs in on dangers of social media for kids

As politicians search for ways to make social media safer, University of New Haven Criminal Justice Professor Bobby McDonald says safety starts at home.

CONNECTICUT, USA — In today's world, social media has become an integral part of our daily lives. While it has its benefits, it also has a dark side.

“We really have to be diligent and making sure we know what our kids are doing and who they are potentially doing it with,” said University of New Haven Criminal Justice Professor Bobby McDonald.

Experts say Connor Tidd's case, in which he is accused of kidnapping a 13-year-old girl through social media, serves as a reminder for parents to talk with their kids about their online activity and consider implementing ground rules.

“Have your students or have your children put their electronics down at the dinner table and let’s start some conversations again like we used,” said McDonald.

He also said it’s important to also discuss the dangers of social media.

“We’ve got to have some hard discussions with our children and our students about the dangers of being enticed on these types of websites and the people that are engaging on these type of activities on these websites,” said McDonald.

All this is happening as Connecticut’s senators call for social media reform on the federal level. Senator Chris Murphy is among those introducing legislation that bans all children under the age of 13 from using social media and requires children under 18 to have guardian permission to create an account

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“I have also seen the immense damage that it does,” said Murphy.

While Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s Kids Online Safety Act aims to put in place stricter settings on online sites used by minors.

“This idea is not red or blue. It's not Republican or Democrat. There's no red or blue algorithm driving toxic content,” said Blumenthal.

As politicians search for ways to make social media safer, McDonald said safety starts at home.

DeAndria Turner is a multi-media journalist at FOX61 News. She can be reached at dturner@fox61.com. 


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