It may seem like sexual predators lurk around every corner of the internet but you may be surprised by the number of kids approached by a sexual predator on the internet. According to a study published by CNN, 9% of kids receive unsolicited sexual attention. That number is 53% less than in 2000. But that doesn’t mean kids aren’t getting in trouble on the internet. Another study published in that same article says kids are more likely to pressure kids into sharing sexual content than adults are.
What are parents to do?
Parents Magazine says it’s important to use controls on your child’s devices. ConnectSafely.org offers an updated list for setting phone limits. ConnectSafely is a great resource for before during an after dealing with issues on social media. If you are a parent that is already dealing with issues like sexting, you can learn the best way to handle it here.
Learn the Lingo
Another way to help keep your kids safe online is to learn their lingo. This article published earlier this month talks about how detectives learn to talk like teens to catch predators, you to can use these tips to understand how your teens are communicating. Also, investigate games that they play online, some have innocent sounding names but include hidden dangers. This news story breaks it down:
Don’t forget that many kids have access to computers at school as well and you may not be able to track those devices as well. Instead, it may be best for you to teach your kids internet safety before they head off to school. The Guardian says the sooner you teach them the better they will be. They have some tips on what to talk about and how to approach it here. I’ll summarize some of their key points for you:
- Let them know you can’t take back what is said on the internet
- If you wouldn’t do it face to face you shouldn’t do it online
- Spend the time looking over their history not just telling them the rules
- Talk to them about the importance of data safety
- Explain to them that you need to know their online friends just like you know their off-line friends
Don’t give up
Vigilance is a theme echoed across all of these resources. Remember that kids attention span can be pretty small so you may have to go over these rules more than once. It may not be easy but it’s important to do what you can to keep your kids safe while they are surfing away.