The internet can be a very useful tool for providing entertainment and information for children but it can also be dangerous. Children can come across inappropriate content or can become victims of cyber crimes. Here are a some ways to ensure that your child is safe while browsing the internet.
Research by the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children indicates that many teenagers are making themselves easy targets for cyber criminal. Here are some startling statistics:
• 71% of teenagers aged 13-17 received online messages from persons they did not know.
• Out of those who received such messages, 40% generally replied to the messages.
• 30% of teenager aged 13-17 said they will consider meeting someone they had talked online.
• 14% actually met such persons in real life.
• 1 in 4 children aged 10-17 were exposed to sexually explicit images online although they did not seek or expect such images.
• 1 in 5 youths said they received unwanted sexual solicitations over the net.
Cyber bullies use the net and other media to harass, tease, intimidate, humiliate or embarrass children online. There have been many serious cases of cyberbulling in the recent years. Some of them had fatal consequences. As a result, most states have passed laws criminalizing cyber bullying.
Chat rooms are very popular amongst teenagers. Chat room can also be very dangerous. Many sexual predators use chat room to pick their victims. They often pretend to be a child and lure their victims to meet them at an undisclosed location. Parents should teach their children to be cautious if someone whom they have chatted with in a chat room asks them to meet in real life. Educate your children about online safety.
The FBI has come out with a list of warning signs. If your child indicates any of these signs, it may be an indication that your child is at risk:
• Spending lots of time online
• Find pornographic images on the computer your child uses
• Receiving phone calls from unknown persons or unknown numbers
• Receiving unsolicited mail or gifts from unknown persons addressed to your child
• Your child conceals the screen or switches off the monitor when you are nearby
• Your child avoids family activities
• Your child access someone else’s online account
Keeping Your Child Safe
Here are some steps you can take to protect your children:
• Communicate with your child and explain the potential for danger. Explain to your child the need to be cautious when chatting/communicating with strangers online.
• Make sure you know what you child is doing online.
• Avoid placing the computer in your child’s room. Instead place it in a common area. This will make it easier for you to keep a tab on your child’s online activities.
• Use parental control software to block unwanted content.
• Make random checks on your child’s email and other online accounts.
• Explain to your children the importance of following internet safety guidelines.
If you need assistance with the law relating to online safety of children, contact an experienced attorney.