In today’s society, children are using the Internet at school as well as at home. This technology can be an invaluable learning and reference tool. Children also use it to stay in touch with their friends and to make new ones in chat rooms. The problem with this type of socializing is that your child has no idea who is really in the chat room with them. Many sexual predators pose as teenagers to lure real kids into meeting them. By teaching your child a few safety tips, you can help them to avoid contact with predators.
Most children are taught to stay away from strangers at a very young age. You just need to point out to them that they should do the same thing on the Internet. If another “child” strikes up a conversation in a chat room, it is all right to talk about general things. If this person begins to talk about things that makes your child uncomfortable or begins to use profane language, your child should log off immediately without responding. By not responding and logging off, your child may indirectly give the person on the Internet the message that they have went too far, and that person may avoid talking to your child in the future. Your child should also inform you or another trusted adult about the conversation.
Another safety tip for children is not to give their full name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address to anyone in the chat room that they do not know personally. If a person asks for this information or for the child’s password, the child should log off immediately and find a trusted adult.
Another good safety tip for adults as well as children is that you or your child should not post your child’s picture on the Internet. Your child should not use their picture with their user name, as a predator can track your child through different chat rooms by just looking for this name. Bothe adults and children should not have pictures posted on sites that require a valid e-mail address either. Predators with a flair for computers can use this address to track down your personal information, such as your social security number. After obtaining this, it is simple to find your name, home address and telephone number. You should also avoid sending pictures via your cell phone, as just one wrong number can send information to the wrong person.
If your child has been chatting with another child over a period of time and the other child wants to arrange for the two to meet, you can agree to a meeting only in your presence. If it is another child, the two children can plan a fun-filled day. If an adult shows up, inform your local authorities immediately.
There are many sites on the Internet that are “adult-only.” You should teach you child that if he accidentally gets into one of these sites, he should leave it immediately. Some computer devices “lock out” your children and allow them to only visit Web sites that are appropriate. These devices may be a good investment, especially with curious teenagers in the house.
Again, the Internet is a valuable learning tool, but unfortunately it can be dangerous in the hands of some users as well. Teaching your child to practice safety first on the Internet as well as the outside world can be a valuable lesson.