ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - As children continue to learn from home, authorities are asking parents to track their internet use after disturbing details have come out about a Florida Amber Alert issued over the weekend.
Investigators say this all began on social media from a school computer. It’s a warning to parents as more children than ever are online for school work: that they could become targets of predators just like the 11-year-old girl who deputies say disappeared with an older man over the weekend after chatting online.
“If you have her please just let her go," the little girl's mother, Danielle Vega, pleaded.
Vega’s 11-year-old daughter disappeared from their Orange County home with a man who deputies say she met through Instagram while using her school computer at home.
After Saturday’s AMBER Alert, deputies say they tracked them to the Pandhandle where they arrested 26-year-old Keith Edward Greene Jr. for kidnapping.
“I have no idea why someone would travel from Texas to Florida for an 11-year-old child, but no we don’t know who he is," Vega said.
It’s a story all too familiar to investigators who hunt child predators. With hundreds of thousands of kids online for virtual school, law enforcement calls it a perfect storm for suspects to lurk in the internet shadows.
In August through a FOX 35 investigation, we told you in Central Florida alone, the number of child pornography and exploitation investigations more than doubled from March to June.
This weekend’s case has added to the concern.
So what is a parent to do?
Now more than ever, experts say to check your child’s browser history and social media as part of your daily routine. Cyber expert Tom Jelneck suggests a few apps that do the work for you – like Net Nanny, Bark, and Mama Bear.
"Basically you set it up and it monitors all the accounts that you want it to monitor for chatter and it notifies you if there are any shenanigans," Jelneck told FOX 35 News.
Experts say now more than ever is the time to teach your children to not talk to strangers, especially online, and certainly do not send anyone pictures.
The Orange County Sheriff's Office is also warning parents to be aware of their kids’ online and social media activity.
The kidnapping suspect, who was apprehended upstate, will be extradited to Orange County. He is scheduled for court on October 13.
Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest Central Florida news.