As much as the internet is an amazing resource and utility, there is danger lurking in the shadows. Adults are usually safe from the tricks that predators pull on children, but who is going to keep the children safe? Children should be aware of what is going on where ever they may be on the internet, and as their parent, you should be aware of what your child is doing. We tell our children, "Don't talk to strangers," but that is exactly what they are doing online. It is important for children to know that they must be careful what information they are giving away on the internet.
Monitor your childBlog sites, chat rooms, and social networking sites, such as facebook or myspace, are places that internet predators thrive. They feed off the information that children put out there for the world to see, like their age, address, name, and any physical details, your child may share. Children think everyone on the internet is trustworthy and they don't realize who is really out there, watching them, and analyzing everything they do or say. It isn't hard for Internet Predators to manipulate your child into giving them information.
What can you do to help?
- Familiarize yourself with today's technology. Be aware what is available for people to use on computers or on the internet.
- Be aware of what your child does with a Web Cam. Web Cams can be extremely dangerous if it is used in the wrong way, and Internet Predators would love to see your child on video. Don't give them that opportunity.
- Digital Cameras can be used for the same purpose as a Web Cam. Children can take pictures and upload them onto the internet in less than five minutes. Once something is on the internet, it doesn't come off, EVEN IF YOU DELETE THE PICTURE.
- Cell Phones have even become dangerous now, because some have the ability to go onto the internet and most phones have the ability to take pictures.
Signs your child is participating in Dangerous Behavior
- They excessively surf the internet, chat rooms, etc - especially at night. (more than normal)
- You discover pornography in their internet history.
- They begin receiving phone calls or mail from people you don't know.
- They make local or long distance calls to numbers you don't recognize.
- When you enter their bedroom, they instantly shut off their monitor or close their web page (could be harmless or suspicious).
- They start using the internet at places other than your home, because they know you're watching them.
- Their mood changes drastically for the worse.