ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS. CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION, ARTICLES
Keeping Your Children Safe From Online Predators
Child predators seek environments with ample targets, and so they flock to the internet. Did you know that 1 out of every 4 children who spend time in a chat room will be targeted by a pedophile?
Ensure that your children are safe from online predators by considering the following:
Never leave your children alone in a room with an internet-enabled device. In the same way that you wouldn’t leave your child alone in a room with someone you did not know or trust, you should not leave your kids alone with the internet. All internet activity should be done in a communal part of the house when the parents are home to monitor the child’s online activity.
Equip yourself with standard computer knowledge. Parents should be the ones to set up the child’s accounts and should have knowledge of all usernames and passwords. As well, ensure that you are aware of all online accounts your child may have set up. You can do this by googling your child’s name, and nicknames into a search engine. Educate yourself about internet filters, firewalls, and other software that can help you monitor your child’s activity online. Be aware that while you can monitor your child’s online activity, you cannot monitor their chat room activity.
Be observant. If your child suddenly closes browser windows when you walk in the room, or acts nervous and doesn’t want you to see what they’re working on, then you need to investigate. Go on their web browser and click the back button, or check their history. Parents should pay close attention to the computer screen when their child is on the internet, and they should also be very aware of what pictures are showing up on the screen.
Teach your kids about what information is appropriate to put on the internet. This is something both children and parents need to know. The more information that you make available, the easier it is for people to find you. Children should never, ever, give out personal information such as city, birthday, full name, or the name of their school. Pictures of themselves should also be kept off the internet, and never emailed out to people they don’t know. Once a picture has left your computer you have no control over it, and a predator can do whatever they want with it.
Talk to your kids. Many times kids will talk to strangers online because they feel they don’t have someone to talk to at home. Have honest and open conversations with your child, and let them know that if they see or are sent anything over the internet that bothers them, or makes them feel uncomfortable, they can come to you. It is very important that children feel safe bringing this kind of issue to their parents without fear of getting in trouble. If you need help starting family conversations visit www.netsmartz.org.
Look for signs that your child could be in trouble. Your child may exhibit the following:
- They are behaving differently
- They are withdrawing from you
- They are losing interest in school
- They are spending more time on the internet
Other signs include:
- Gifts arriving at your house
- Calls from people you don’t know
These signs are quite serious as they may mean your child has given out their home address or phone number, or the predator found it out. This presents a threat to your child and the rest of your family. If you suspect your child is in danger, or the victim of an online predator, call the police. You can also visit:
These sites will connect you with people who can help and educate you on more ways to keep your family safe.