This Article is About
social networking sites
child pornography
online predators
warning signs that
sexual orientation
Danger Is Only A Click Away: Online Safety Is Crucial
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Danger is Only a Click Away: Online Safety is Crucial

The Internet is a great tool for our children. They can easily connect with family and friends using social sites, complete homework by doing research, and keep up with news and current events. The Internet is a great tool but it can be dangerous. The Internet is a perfect place for a predator to hide.

Wikipedia defines an online predator as an adult Internet user who exploits vulnerable children or teens, usually for sexual or other abusive purposes. Predators take advantage of the anonymity of the Internet to build relationships with inexperienced young people. Anonymity allows trust and intimacy to develop quickly between the predator and their victims.

The victimization of minors by online predators can include child grooming, requests to engage in sexual activities or discussions by an adult, unwanted exposure to sexual material, and/or harassment that makes the child feel uncomfortable or afraid. Predators generally seduce their targets through attention, kindness, and affection. They strike up a conversation, show interest in their lives, gain their trust and then build them up (become friends).

Online predators find their victims through social networking sites, chat rooms, discussion boards, and by instant messaging. They know the latest music and hobbies that interest children so they visit chat rooms where children will be drawn. They look for childlike screen names and make contact. They are ready to listen and sympathize with their problems.

All young people are potentially at risk of being contacted by an online predator. We should pay particular attention to high-risk youth, including those with histories of sexual abuse, sexual orientation concerns, and patterns of risk taking. Online predators know these children will be the most vulnerable to their advances as they look for someone to verify their feelings.

What are the warning signs that a predator is in contact with your child?

• Pornography is found on their computer

• Withdrawals from normal activities

• Spends allot of time on the Internet

• Switches screens when an adult walks into the room

What are some steps a child can take to reduce the risk of being contacted by an online predator?

• Use a gender neutral screen name

• Do not email, instant message, or chat with strangers

• Never reveal personal information (including age and gender)

• Do not post provocative pictures online

• Tell an adult if anyone starts to ask personal or sexually suggestive questions

What can parents do?

• Talk openly to your kids about online predators and how they operate

• Keep the computer in a common area of the house, never in the bedroom

• Direct them to use well-monitored kids’ chat rooms

• Follow age limits on social networking sites

• Use parental software that allows you to monitor your child’s online activity

Parents should also understand that children are not always honest about what they are doing online. As parents it is your job to monitor your child’s activity and keep them safe.

Over the next few years Internet use will rise and more children will be online. Please speak with your children about online predators. Educate them on ways to stay safe on the Internet. Monitor their activity and watch for warning signs. Children make easy prey for the experienced adult.


Street Talk

I like this... thank you.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

These are awesome tips Stacy! It does make me sad that the world can be such a dangerous place for our kids though.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Awareness is the first step in safety. Thanks for educating me on these dangerous things I did not realize.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Excellent article. Valuable information. Thanks

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Excellent tips, Stacy. The internet is a scary place for childen.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

All good ideas. It can be down right dangerous out there.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Very helpful article. Something I need to talk to my kids about. I'm going to print your article so we can share it at the next family meeting. They're not on social sites yet (like FB) but many of the children's games have a social component so it's a fine line. It could be debated that these are.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Thank you Heather. I am getting ready to write an article on predators & online gaming but it may take me a few days.

Reply
  about 8 years ago
Lemuel  

Thank you Stacy. These are great tips - a good defense for children against online predators. I will click the Like again.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Thank you Lemuel. I appreciate that!

Reply
  about 8 years ago

How did it take a month for this article to reach my inbox. good article with great advice Stacy, don't know if I can keep my kids off they're too old.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Thank you Rob :)

Reply
  about 8 years ago
Al4256  

It might not be a bad idea to have a family computer in a shared part of the home. Not a solution. I do not think it is a good idea for children to post any pictures of themselves online.

Reply
  about 8 years ago

Great idea. Thank you for sharing :)

Reply
  about 8 years ago
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