Chicago/ Family & Kids
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Published on February 06, 2024
Illinois AG Kwame Raoul Champions Online Safety for Kids in Chicago on Safer Internet DaySource: Google Street View

It's Safer Internet Day, and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul is hitting the digital pavement, peddling a dose of tough love to parents and caregivers across the Chicago area. With a stout reminder that every day is game-time for keeping kids safe online, Raoul is stressing the critical role adults play in shepherding the young ones through the digital thicket. In a statement released earlier, he says, "Today and every day is an opportunity to talk to children about safe and healthy online behavior."

With anecdotes as numerous as spammy emails, the potential perils of unchecked Internet use by kids – from cyberbullying to explicit content – are as plain as day. Discussions about online exploitation and privacy violations, Raoul argues, while maybe making you squirm in your seat, are the talks we need to have. With the march of tech showing no sign of a pause button, the Attorney General's crusade has led to a SMART approach brewing in the background, with steps to tighten the ship on your homefront: setting up devices, monitoring use, approving apps, restricting permissions, and talking with kids.

But it's not just about clamping down – Raoul wants to foster savvy digital citizens. Teaching children to engage with content critically, know who they 'friend' online, and the importance of not sharing sensitive information is part of his broader plan. "Teach them always," Raoul advised. And, crucially, he added the oft-overlooked wisdom of encouraging tech timeouts and having trusted adults in the wings for support.

Beyond the homespun guidance, Raoul's work is showing muscles in the courtroom. March of last year saw the Attorney General spearheading a bipartisan investigation into TikTok's less savory connections with youth mental health issues. By the time leaves started turning in October 2023, his office was locking horns with Meta Platforms Inc. – yes, the Facebook and Instagram titan – via a lawsuit addressing Meta's business practices that seemingly flirted with the health risks of their youngest user base. Raoul, leading a band of 22 attorneys general in December, pushed the Supreme Court to stick to its guns in keeping the social media giants on a tighter leash.

In the heart of Illinois, Raoul's hands are not just on deck with policy but also with direct action through the state's Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force. Funded by the Department of Justice, the team rolls out internet safety education — now prized at thousands of sessions — to anyone in Illinois who's game. To get a piece of this digital defense pie, residents can step right up and schedule a presentation at Reflecting on its impact, the ICAC Task Force has nailed down over 2,000 predators since 2006, a figure that's as staggering as it is sobering.