Created: 08/25/2014 12:38 PM
The key is to protect your children till they can do so for themselves.
Tell your children to not give out personnel information or your location online.
Explain to your children they shouldn’t give out information such as their school name, their sports team name and jersey number. If they talk about where they are playing their next volleyball tournament, a predator can use this information (i.e. mascot, jersey number) to find them.
Explain to your children to never agree to meet face-to-face with someone they’ve met online and if someone wants to meet them, they should tell you about it. People in person are not always who they appear to be online.
Encourage your children not to respond to messages that contain mean/rude/bad language, that are weird, or are scary.
Stress that children should never send or post a picture of themselves (or their friends) without your permission. Once something is on the internet, it is there forever and can be distributed across the globe in the blink of an eye, ultimately ending up in the hands of someone you don’t want to have the picture.
Don’t download or install software or anything onto your computer or phone without checking with a parent first.
Use privacy settings for social networking sites.
Children’s screen names should be nondescript so as to not identify the name or age of the child.
Tell your children not to share their passwords with anyone but you (even their best friend) and not to write them down.
Be involved in your child’s life. This includes:
Monitoring your child’s access to the internet through all devices (computer, iPod, phone, etc.)
Knowing the capabilities of the devices your child has access to. Some parents don’t know that their child can connect to the internet using an iPod.
Making sure that access to the internet at your children’s school is monitored by adults
Knowing what access to the internet they have at their friend’s house
Remember, the fastest way to stop hurtful comments and bullying online is to turn the device off. Nothing says you have to respond or defend yourself from someone that would not say the same comment to your face. Parents, encourage dialogue with kids about cyberbullying and inappropriate comments of either a violent or sexual nature. The more open you are with your children, the better the chance you will be there to help when needed.
You are not there to be your child’s friend; you are there to be their parent. Be willing to sacrifice being the cool parent to keep your child safe and protected. Know passwords, check computer histories, access emails and text. This is not invading privacy, this is defending their lives.
Your children are precious and beautiful and worth more than anything else in the world, remember to tell them that and often. Confidence and understanding will give them a better chance against a predator. The predators target children with low self-esteems, who have an unfilled need to belong or feel popular, wanted and loved; don’t let that be your kids.
Resources for parents and children: