Keeping your kids safe: how to catch predators online and in reality

Child predators lurk online and in your neighborhood. Technology can help you keep these crooks away from your family.

Keeping your kids safe: how to catch predators online and in reality

CREATED Oct. 31, 2012

Web Producer: Mekita Rivas

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's a scary time to be a kid -- and not just because it's Halloween. 

As trick-or-treaters pack the streets Wednesday night, many kids may be venturing by themselves -- some for the first time. While that thought alone can give any parent a good fright, technology offers some peace of mind.

All you need is your smart phone or tablet because...there's an app for that. 

SecuraFone and Life360 Family Tracking are available from the Apple apps store. Trick or Tracker is available only for Android. These three apps all have one thing in common: they use GPS tracking technology to keep your kids in check. 

Simply download the app to the device that your child will carry while they trick-or-treat and you'll know exactly where your child is at all times. You'll also receive an alert if your child travels too far. 

Living in a more digital world comes with its dangers, especially for children who are vulnerable to predators both in real life and online. 

What are some signs parents can look for to identify these crooks? 

In a YouTube video, parenting expert Patty Fitzgerald discusses the red flags that can alert parents to people who may be potential threats to their children. 

If a person...

-- wants a lot of one-on-one time with your child and excludes you

-- showers your child with attention, gifts and praise

-- is always offering to help out for free

-- prefers to have relationships with children instead of with people their own age

-- almost exclusively focuses on one particular child at all times

...then he or she may be a potential predator. 

How can you make sure your kids are safe from these people? 

First of all, keep the computer in a public area of your home so you can maintain a closer look at what your child is doing online.

Once in a while, do a Google search for your child's name -- this will show you what kind of personal information is out there for people to see about him or her.

It's also important to know the online lingo that kids use to communicate. They may resort to acronyms to send messages to predators. 

Armed with these tools, parents will be better equipped to keep their children safe anytime, any place.