Is your child being groomed by ‘Cyber Predators’?
By LeGrand Woolley, Net Nanny
Parents probably already know many of the dangers facing their children on the Internet today. Perhaps the most common threat to kids online is pornography. Americans spend $265 million every day on pornography and each second more than 28,000 Internet users are viewing pornography. However, pornography is only one of the many “Internet Monsters” lurking to attack your children online. For years, parents were educated in ways to protect their children from pornography and other “Internet Monsters”.
One particular “Internet Monster” that many parents learn about, some too late, are cyber predators. A cyber predator is an individual, usually an adult that attempts to exploit, or rather groom, children through the Internet. They look for anything personal to become friends with the child in hopes of using this friendship to harm the child— sexually, emotionally, financially, or otherwise. Generally, these relationships form in chat rooms.
These statistics regarding cyber predators are quite alarming for parents.
*1 in 7 youths will receive a sexual solicitation while online
*29% of youths aged 7-17 report freely giving out their home address online
*20% of abductions among teens aged 15-17 are due to Internet contact
Now that we know a little about these “Internet Monsters” how do we stop them? Where do we begin? Here is a short checklist that parents can incorporate into their family’s lifestyle to make sure their kids are safe from these predators.
Parents need to talk to their kids about the dangers of the Internet. Talk to them about the online world, just like you would help them in the real world. Set specific guidelines and rules with online surfing.
Learn about the Internet and what sites your kids frequent.
Education goes hand-in-hand with communication. If the parents know the dangers themselves, this sets an example to the child to understand them as well. Whether it's MySpace, Facebook or another social networking site, by knowing what people are doing on your children's favorite sites that could put them in harm's way. Parents can educate their children and show them the warning signs of potentially dangerous situations and ways to handle them if they do arise.
Teach your children obvious identity rules.
Tell your children NOT to put photos of them on the Internet or to give out their names, addresses, phone numbers, schools, or other personal information online.
(Click here to see other Internet safety tips.)
As the “Internet Monsters” continue to grow it’s a fight that parents must be aware of, and ready to take action against. Most children don’t see the harm in chatting with strangers online. To them it may just be a harmless game, but to the cyber predator—it’s all business. Today is the day for parents and children to be educated and armed with knowledge to get rid of these “Monsters” once and for all.