“This does and can happen to your family - it really can - so you have to prevent it,” she says.
Sixteen years since Alicia’s ordeal, the internet has become a staple part of most people’s lives throughout the world. Although this creates many positive opportunities, it has also increased potential threats.
Kozakiewicz says the focus on followers and likes for young people can open them up to contact from strangers. “[Kids] have to be a good online citizen as well as a good person in the real world,” she says. “Your self-worth is not valued by the number of likes or followers you have.”
Children have access to a myriad of sites, games, videos and applications and Kozakiewicz says it’s important for parents to stay up-to-date with current trends.
“Do your research. Get online, get Snapchat [and] Instagram, play with it and figure it out,” she stresses.
Kozakiewicz says parents must sit down and talk about internet safety with their children as they do other safety issues: “as a parent, you can’t just let your child find their way in this world – you teach them to wear a seatbelt, look both ways when crossing the road, don’t touch a hot pot.”
“You don’t want to scare them to the point where it’s debilitating,” she adds. “It’s not about making them fear the world, it’s about empowering them. Kids make mistakes -that’s how they learn and grow - and we need to prepare them for if they do.”