Ensuring the Online Safety for Our Children
The Internet can be a wonderful tool that can be used to connect people from opposite corners of the world, observe animals in the wild via live feed, or simply access the most accurate, current information on any subject. However, as much as the Internet enriches our lives, it is not without its dangers.
As recently as five years ago, monitoring your child’s online activity was as simple as placing the computer in a central area of the home where you can easily glance at the screen from time to time. This is no longer the case in the year 2015 with the growing number of kids owning smartphones and/or tablets and the swift pace at which they learn to operate these devices.
It has become far more complicated to protect kids from the dangers lurking within the infinite and mysterious online world.
Consider these statistics from the Protect Kids website which is dedicated to protecting kids in cyberspace:
- The most common means by which sexual predators contact children over the Internet is through chat rooms, instant messages, and email.
- 89% of sexual solicitations were made in either chat rooms or instant messages.
- 1 in 5 youth (ages 10-17 years) has been sexually solicited online (JAMA, 2001). Considering that 25% of kids online participate in real time chat and 13 million use instant messaging, the risks of such children, either knowingly or unknowingly, interacting with a predator is alarming.
What You as a Parent Can Do to Keep Your Children Safe Online
- Learn and Implement
Learn to use and implement the parental controls on your computer and mobile devices. Contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to see if they offer parental controls and/or blocking software. A few recommended software programs for monitoring your child’s online activity according to Parents include NetNanny Parental Controls, CYBERsitter and Cyberpatrol.
- Keep Communication Open
Talk with your child about online safety parameters. Once you’ve come up with some ground rules, print out a safety pledge you can both sign and post on your refrigerator or another central location. Here’s an example of a pledge that you might like to use from Safekids.com.
- Utilize Privacy Controls
Use privacy controls on social media sites such as Facebook. There are settings on Facebook that allow you to limit who can see your child’s posts and who can instant message your child according to the Huffington Post.
- Limit Time Spent on Devices
If your child uses a tablet or smartphone, either limit the amount of time he or she spends online while alone or prohibit your child from using the device while alone. You might also require that they stay in a common area of the home while on the Internet.
The Internet is an amazing place to learn and connect, but it is also a place where dangerous things can happen. With vigilance and determination, parents can implement the tools and use the knowledge to keep their children safe.
Think it over
There are laws in place to protect individuals as well as children on the Internet. If your child has been sexually solicited online or they are being pursued inappropriately, please contact my office. We can help protect your child from future harm and defend his or her rights.
Over to You
As a parent, what have you found to be the most difficult part about keeping your children safe in cyberspace? Has your child been approached by an online sexual predator? What additional tips would you add for ensuring the safety of our children online?
For more information about keeping your child(ren) safe online, please see:
- A Parent’s Guide to Online Safety by the FBI