The Internet opens a world of possibilities for children, as well as adults, to expand their horizons and expose them to different cultures and different dangers. It is important to know where to find information online about online safety. Lucky for you, there are a number of sites that are dedicated just to keeping the Internet safe.
Let’s face it, while the Internet is a useful tool, there are individuals who use the Internet to attempt to sexually exploit children. Some of these individuals gradually seduce their targets by listening to and empathizing with the child about their problems. These predators are aware of the latest music, hobbies, and interest of children and teenagers.
Visit www.kids.gov This site has a list of several Internet safety sites, many of the organizations listed such as The Federal Trade Commission, the FBI, and National Center for Missing and Exploited Children have created web sites to help educate children and their parents about Internet safety and the dangers online.
Most of these sites will tell you the same things, and it is important to pay attention:
Online predators attempt to gradually lower children’s inhibitions by slowly introducing sexual context into their conversations. Other individuals may immediately engage in sexually explicit conversations with children.
Teenagers are generally interested in and curious about sexuality and sexually explicit material. This makes them more vulnerable to online predators.
Sex offenders targeting teens will use and exploit the curiosity and natural characteristics and needs teens have.
Some offenders will use the Internet to mainly collect and trade child pornography with other offenders, while others seek face to face meetings with children/adolescents they have met online.
It is important for parents to understand that children can be indirectly victimized through online chats, as well as the transfer of sexually explicit information and material.
Computer sex predators will often times be evaluating children and teens they come in contact with online for future face to face contact and direct victimization.
Not all online predators are adults. Some children may also be attracted to and lured by online offenders closer to their age who, although not technically child molesters, may be dangerous.
Chat is a very popular activity for young people, especially teenagers, but it is also an area they are more likely to get into trouble.
Parents should talk to their children about chatting, explaining that people are not always who they seem to be online.
Parents should emphasize to children how important it is to not give out personal information to anyone they meet online and to never meet with some one they have met online, unless it has been approved by you.
Most kids of this generation have used Internet technology for social purposes, sending messages and files, along with using social networking sites to post profiles of themselves. This is looked at as a typical and normal ways of interacting socially, which means for many they do not have their guard up.
Social networking sites give children the opportunity to share stories, pictures, videos, and other files with friends and acquaintances, but there are certainly safety concerns that parents and children should discuss, such as how much personal information is too much.
There are many sites for parents, children and teens, where parents can share their concerns and ask other parents questions about their children’s online socializing. One such site is called Net Family Forum. This is a great tool for parents if used properly.
Parents may want to consider installing monitoring software or filters to prevent children from entering any personal information.
There are signs that parents can look for that may indicate their child is at risk while online. One indicator is if your child is spending large amounts of time online, especially at night. Children online are more at risk during the evening hours. Many sex offenders and predators spend their evenings online trying to locate and befriend potential victims. To learn more about keeping children and teenagers safe online, along with signs that your child may be at risk and what you should do if your child is victimized online, visit www.kids.gov.