- Establish Limits - Tell them which websites they are allowed to visit. If you don't want them visiting Social Networks, then explain this to them, alerting them to the dangers involved. Most teens love these Social Networks and that is usually one of the first things that a teen will do when they have access to a computer, but Social Networks are a major hunting ground for Internet Predators, and they need to understand that.
- Surf with your Child - Spend some time understanding the types of places that interests your child and see if you feel that it is safe for them. Do you know a safer site for them, suggest it.
- Show them how to keep their personal information private - Kids don't understand the dangers involved when they share their personal information and that is when we need to make sure that they are safeguarding all of their personal information. Real name, phone number, address, email, school information, and gender should not be identifiable. Internet Predators look for children of certain ages, gender, etc; therefore, they unknowingly make themselves targets.
- Know who is contacting your child - Who they are talking to online? Do they frequent social networking sites, forums, or play any type of online games? These are all places with chat capabilities and they may have come across a predator and are not even aware of it. Who is on their Buddy list? Ask them to show you. If you have ANY reason to believe that your child may be talking to people that they shouldn't, then please see the products listed in the "Internet Safety Products “section. There are products that can give you a snapshot of the pages your child is frequenting, passwords, keystrokes, chat logs, and you can restrict access to certain websites. They can give you peace of mind.
- Ask your child if they have been approached by anyone that made them feel uncomfortable - If there is someone that stands out in their mind, someone who was particularly disturbing, they may feel the need to tell you. I say that they "may" tell you, because your child may be embarrassed of the encounter, or feel that they are in some way responsible. Explain to them that although the Internet can be a great learning tool, it also has a downside; sick individuals whose sole purpose is to prey on the innocence of children.
- Alert them to the dangers of a face-to-face meeting with someone they have only met online - Thousands of kids have been kidnapped, sexually assaulted, or even murdered after meeting someone from a chat room. Our ultimate goal is to make sure that our children know the dangers associated with that. They need to understand that people are not always who they seem to be. That is how Internet Predators lure children, by pretending to be another teen, sharing in the same interests, pretending to be understanding to their problems, all the while, gaining their confidence, waiting until it is time to make their move.
- Report any sexual images and inappropriate contact - If your child has received sexual images, links to sexual web sites, disturbing emails, or any unwanted and dangerous contact, report them immediately to your local law enforcement, additionally, to the CyberTipline. Do not try to download or save the images, delete them, or move them, as it may destroy the evidence.
- Communicate with your child - This is the most important element to keeping your child safe online, and I cannot stress this enough. Make yourself approachable by being understanding, which will make it easier for your child to come to you when they need to. A child is never to blame when someone hurts or harasses them; the perpetrator is the only one at fault.
Eight Tips to Help your Child Avoid an Online Predator
It is so important to educate our children about the dangers associated with the Internet, specifically, Online Predators; being knowledgeable about the tactics used by these predators, will go a long way to ensuring their personal safety. Here are eight tips to keeping your child safe online:
We are the only ones that can protect our children from the dangers that lurk online. If you keep an open line of communication with your children, then half the battle is won.