According to a fact sheet from the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes Against Children Research Center, one out of 25 youths received insistent sexual solicitations online that were likely to lead to victimization. Also, one out of 25 youths was asked online to take sexually suggestive pictures.
Internet safety is more important than ever. As wireless internet connectivity and Web-enabled mobile devices become common in modern households, it is crucial that the young, fairly impressionable members of your family understand the potential dangers of the Web. Teach your kids to be judicious in their online dealings. Here are ten ways to do that.
1. Explain patiently to your kids the risks and benefits of the internet
Point out the fact that the personal information they share online can haunt them later. Their irresponsible and spur-of-the-moment posts, as well as their provocative snapshots, can ruin friendships, sour their relationships with other people, hurt their reputation, and serve as fodder for online predators.
2. Use privacy settings
Make them understand how to take advantage of the privacy settings on social networking sites. Filtering features can help limit your kids’ forays into the privacy-breach-laden world of social media sites.
3. Underscore the importance of critical thinking
Kids will be kids, but they can learn fast if you patiently guide them. Educate them on identifying credible websites from malware-ridden ones. Tell them that they can be preyed on virtually even by people they know and trust. The Web affords people with anonymity, which can be used by some to take advantage of children. Your kids have to understand that.
4. Emphasize the need for your kids to be open and communicative with you
If someone solicits a provocative picture from your children online, you would want to be the first to know. Make sure that they know they have nothing to fear from you if they tell you the truth.
5. Instill the value of discipline
Instill the value of discipline, most especially if you are dealing with very young kids. Set rules for internet usage. It would also help if you place the computer in the open such as in the living room, where adults are likely to be present most of the time.
6. Explain how discretion can deter online predators
Social networking sites, online forums, and blogs are problematic areas for many parents whose kids are heavy internet users. Make sure that your children understand that the indiscriminate posting of text and images giving away sensitive details like schools being attended, regular schedules, and home addresses is potentially risky.
7. Discuss online fraud with your kids
Statistics from the Federal Trade Commission showed that 31 percent of reported identity theft victims were young people. Your not-so-diligent teens may need a little reminding when it comes to securing passwords and personal information, as well as recognizing phishing sites and detecting fraudulent offers.
8. Educate your kids about cyberbullying
Encourage them to be open with you, and if they believe they are being bullied, then take the necessary steps to protect them. If another kid is doing the bullying, talk to that kid’s parents.
9. Preempt any face-to-face meetings with your kids’ virtual acquaintances
For parents of teens who may fall prey to this scenario, education is the most effective solution. Arm your children with knowledge as early as possible. Point out how risky this can be.
Because forbidding young people rarely works, take time to offer tips for safe in-person meetings such as going to public places and taking a trusted friend along.
10. Reward kids
Praise your kids each time they demonstrate competence and maturity in their online dealings. This reinforces smart decision-making when browsing the Web and interacting with virtual acquaintances.
All in all, the key to keeping your children safe from the potentially risky aspects of the Web is to painstakingly and thoroughly educate them.
If they were taught at an early age about what lies ahead when they go online, they have better chances of steering clear of online predators, making meaningful and enriching interactions with their peers, and leaving discreetly-placed virtual footprints behind.