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How to Protect Your Child in an Increasingly Digital Age

by Jennifer Garafola, School-Based Mental Health Therapist at Gocio Elementary School 

SARASOTA COUNTY, February 24, 2020 – As a school-based mental health therapist, it’s helpful to stay up to date on the latest social media trends, popular phone apps and games. I have had elementary-aged clients put in dangerous situations by a predator’s access to them through their [the client’s] cell phone. I tell families to routinely check their child’s phone for potential risks and to stay informed on whom their child is talking to and what they’re talking about. I’m honest with my student clients and tell them that I will be speaking to their parents about monitoring their cell phone use. Much to my dismay, I have had parents show me explicit text messages from someone pretending they know their child in an effort to solicit indecent pictures from their child.

An app I recommend for parents is “Family Link”. This app allows parents to remotely monitor their child’s cell phone activity, manage their apps and set limits on screen time. This is especially great for shared households where a child shares time between parents or family members. See here for a link for information on “Family Link.”:

Popular phone apps and games change often, but luckily the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office updates the public frequently. These are the apps investigators are warning parents to watch out for (provided by the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office):


Sheriff's Office's list of 21 apps to watch, descriptions of the apps


If you find your child has been contacted by a potential predator, please contact your local police or sheriff’s office immediately.