ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – After a Ravena man was arrested for allegedly trying to solicit a young teen online, a local father is offering tips on how parents should actively participate in their kids’ social media activity.
Dan Dinsmore, president of Overit, caught a stranger messaging his kids online.
“People were reaching out to my children,” he said. “That didn’t seem like it was a good thing.”
Dinsmore found a stranger inappropriately messaging his child on social media. It wasn’t something he expected to see, but as a father, it’s the reason he checks on everything his kids do online.
“It was hard to track and find, and when you use the word ‘spy,’ you don’t want to spy on your children, but the reality was, there’s platforms out there parents don’t even know about,” Dinsmore said. “It’s terrifying. You hear the stories.”
On Thursday, Bethlehem police arrested 30-year-old Walter McGoldrick for allegedly trying to lure a 15-year-old girl on Facebook.
“Trying to solicit contact with them in what we would classify a semi-aggressive manner,” Bethlehem Police Commander Adam Hornick said. “In sending repeated requests for contact.”
What McGoldrick didn’t know was that he was actually messaging an undercover cop. Police said McGoldrick agreed to meet, but instead of a young girl, he was met by investigators.
“He was trying to reach out to many different people, so we’re asking if anyone was contacted by him, whether they just received a request or had any contact with him, to contact us,” Hornick said.
Because there are several social media apps, Dinsmore said the best thing a parent can do is to keep talking with their kids.
“Sometimes that can be difficult to check their Facebook accounts,” he said. “I think the most important factor, really, is having an open communication with your children and being able to have those discussions about what could happen online.”
Dinsmore said during those conversations with children, parents should let their kids know the internet is permanent, and a lot can be discovered through one picture.
Websites like netsmartz.org are a great tool for parents to use to get tips on how to start the conversation.