The internet has truly shrunk the world. With Ebay and Amazon, we can buy and sell goods at discounts from any country. Chat rooms and social media have opened the door to new relationships with people on other continents. Yet these same advantages also pose dangers to our children, who have greater access to the Internet through electronics. Never before has so much been so available to us and at the same time given people so much access to our families.
The Internet is a great place for Cyberstalkers to lure victims. It provides anonymity for criminals looking for opportunity. In chat rooms, a 42 year old man can pose at a 15 year old boy. But I have good news!! You have tools to empower your child to spot predators and flee their traps.
Here are some Action Steps for Parents you can take to keep your child safe on the internet:
1. Be informed! There are many books and websites available on the subject. Don’t be afraid! Knowledge replaces fear with strength and confidence.
2. Keep lines of communication open with your children. Besides being good parenting, open communication enables your child to come to you if they are concerned about anything they encounter on the internet. f they know you will listen, your children are more likely to come to you for support and answers about situations they are uncomfortable with.
3. Watch the clock. Limit the amount of time your children are on the internet, just like you do the TV or the phone. Moderation helps them become a well rounded individual. Plus, when you are together, you will really want them to be present with you and not in some “other world”.
4. Monitor activity. Check in on your children while they are on the internet. If they are under 16, you can insist they be in a common area when they are on their electronics. Awareness is the first step to prevention or intervention, if necessary.
Action Steps for Children
1. Help your child pick a screen name that will attract the kind of friends your child would like.
2. Tell your child only to send photos with your permission.
3. Tell your child that if he encounter inappropriate or offensive messages, never respond to them.
4. Make sure your child knows to never give anyone personal information or passwords online. While this makes sense to us, telling someone online the kind of car your family has or discussing personal problems on the internet, can reveal to a predator how to find your child.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of actions to take. This blog is meant to empower you to protect your children while they explore the wonderful world of the internet. Feel free to watch our video about internet safety at http://bit.ly/1iiaJOu
These were taken from the book, “Raising Safe Kids in an Unsafe World”, by Jan Wagner. Yello Dyno Publishing, 2002 Edition