By now, an overwhelming majority of parents know that internet safety is one of the more important subjects that can be discussed when deciding how best to keep children protected in a world that often is full of tragic stories.
Despite their tech savvy abilities from an early age, children and teens remain susceptible to those who would use their youth against them to gain entry into their lives. The internet provides both easy access to friends and family, but it can also be a playground for predators who target unsuspecting children and vulnerable teenagers.
And, in recent years, online bullying has also become a hot button issue as many stories surface of children, as young as eight-years-old, turning to suicide to escape the onslaught of hateful words used against them online.
Knowing the Risks
Children and teenagers are especially susceptible to falling victim to those who use false identities. Often, adult predators will create social media accounts to pose as a much younger person. These criminals use flattery and lies to gain your child’s trust, often convincing the child or teen that only the predator truly appreciates or loves them. Using this false relationship, the predator slowly encourages the child into participating in behaviors that are unseemly and often extremely dangerous, including going as far as to set up meetings that result in sexual and physical abuse.
While the realization that potential trouble could be around any corner when your children are on the internet via home computers or cell phones can be frightening, there are many online safety tools and procedures that can be utilized to greatly reduce the opportunities predators and bullies use to strike.
In most cases, parents can make use of parental controls and blocks that come with computers, cell phones, and televisions. Other ways in which parents can ensure their child’s online safety is to know the passwords of their minor child’s accounts, limit use of chat rooms, and to help their children understand that they should never give their personal information or photograph to anyone that hasn’t been approved by an adult in the home.
In the case of an older teen, parents can monitor their child’s cell phone usage, credit card bills, and encourage their teen to keep an open line of communication with their parents about their online presence. As a last precaution, the computers in the home can always be kept in a location frequently used by the entire family.
Along with all the controls that now come part and parcel with computers, you can also find tools specifically targeted to cell phone protection. These apps allow parents to install protection on their child’s phone that allows them to monitor incoming and outgoing calls, text messages, and more. And, while issues of privacy are a real concern, these apps run practically invisibly, ensuring your child is none the wiser while still being protected.
If you are a parent to a child or teen who is about to start using or currently uses the internet or cell phone, it’s important that you know how to keep them safeguarded against online predators and harassment. While you may have taught your children to be safety aware online, it never hurts to have added protection in place to add to their security and your peace of mind.