Do you know how to keep your kids safe from online predators and cyber-bullys? Ask yourself these questions:
Do you know what web sites your children are going to?
Do you know if they are texting on line or on a cell phone, and with who?
Are your kids on social networks like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram?
Are your kids exchanging photos or videos, and what is the content of the material?
Do you have the ability to fully monitor there online activities?
Can you control the sites they can get to, the programs that can be launched?
Do you set time limits for computer access?
Each year thousands of minors become victims of online predators and cyber-bulling. If you don't think these things can happen to your child, think again.
Predators establish contact with kids through conversations in chat rooms, instant messaging, e-mail, or discussion boards. Many teens use peer support online forums to deal with their problems. Predators often go to these online areas to look for vulnerable victims.
Online predators try to gradually seduce their targets through attention, affection, kindness, and even gifts, and often devote considerable time, money, and energy to this effort. They're aware of the latest music and hobbies likely to interest kids.
They listen to and sympathize with kids' problems. They also try to ease young people's inhibitions by gradually introducing sexual content into their conversations or by showing them sexually explicit material.
Some predators work faster than others, engaging in sexually explicit conversations immediately. This more direct approach may include harassment or stalking. Predators may also evaluate the kids they meet online for future face-to-face contact.
But as a parent you can protect your child. Here are some simple guidelines that can keep your child save online.
How can parents minimize the risk of a child becoming a victim?
- Talk to your kids about sexual predators and potential online dangers. Let them know that they should never give out any personal information. This includes there name, age, sex, home address, passwords, or school, or ever exchange photos or videos on line to anyone they do not know.
- Use parental control software that’s built into operating systems like Windows 8, or third party monitoring software, to limit access to inaproprate contact and to be aware of the on line activity of your child.
- Insist that your kids follow age limits on social networking web sites, even if he or she claims their friends are already on these sites. The recommended age for signing up for social networking sites like Facebook is usually 16 and over. If your children are under the recommended age for these sites, do not let them use the sites.
- Young children should not use chat rooms—the dangers are too great. As children get older, direct them towards well-monitored kids' chat rooms. Encourage even your teens to use monitored chat rooms.
- If your children takes part in chat rooms, make sure you know which ones they visit and with whom they talk. Monitor the chat areas yourself to see what kind of conversations take place. Let your children know that if anything inappropriate is ever said or asked of them that they should alert you right away, and that they will never get in trouble or should feel embarrassed or ashamed for coming to you. To simply engage a minor in any form of sexual conversation on line is a crime, even if the adult and the minor never meet in person.
- Instruct your children to never leave the chat room's public area. Many chat rooms offer private areas where users can have one-on-one chats with other users—chat monitors can't read these conversations. These are often referred to as "whisper" areas.
- Keep the Internet-connected computer in a common area of the house, never in a child's bedroom. It is much more difficult for a predator to establish a relationship with your child if the computer screen is easily visible. Even when the computer is in a public area of your home, sit with your child when they are online.
- When your children are young, they should share the family e-mail address rather than have their own e-mail accounts. As they get older, you can set up separate e-mail accounts but only with the understanding that you will always have full access to there e-mail accounts.
- Tell your children to never respond to text messaging or e-mails from strangers. If your children use computers in places outside your supervision—public library, school, or friends' homes—find out what computer safeguards are used.
- If all precautions fail and your kids do meet an online predator, don't blame them. The offender always bears full responsibility. Take decisive action to stop your child from any further contact with this person.
The FBI and the U.S. Department of Justice has put together an invaluable pamphlet that you can download called "A Parents Guide to Inernet Safety". It is a must read for all parents. Also please watch this video from Shawn Henry, executive assistant director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch of the FBI.
For more information check our these links:
The Naked Truth: Beware What You Share poster - (PDF Microsoft)
Safer Online Socializing - (PDF Microsoft)
Monitoring your child's online activity.
Is it ethical to use software to monitor your child's online activity? Yes. It is your job to keep them safe. But be fair and treat your child with respect. Let them know that their computer contains software to monitor their activities. Let them know the types of things being monitored, and don't be afraid to remove there PC if they are not following your guidelines. You would rather have a child who thinks you are being unfair and resents you for the time being, then a child who is a victim of a predator. Here are some tools for monitoring your child's activities. Please note, I do not endorse or recommend any products. You should take the time to research these for yourself and determine what will best fit your needs. The important thing is that you do use something.
Mobicip is a simple to use, multiplatform monitoring software for iPads, iPhones, Android devices and Windows desktops. With Mobicip you can set up restrictions for internet content and time usage as well as monitor what sites and apps your child is using. It is a cloud-filtering service that helps you create a secure internet for your family. A Mobicip account allows you to remotely administer the filtering or monitor browsing history on multiple tablets, smartphones and computers.
Safe Browser is the most popular parental control app for the iPhone, iPod touch & iPad. This safe browser is meant to replace Safari and is enabled using a free or premium Mobicip account. Sign up at mobicip.com.
Spector Pro records and replays detailed computer activity like you were sitting there. Monitor any Mac or PC with this hidden application to find out exactly what they’re doing online. Records email and Internet activity, web history, Facebook, chat & instant messages, online searches, and more.
Keeping your child safe online is as easy as reading your email. eBlaster records online and offline computer activity and sends both scheduled reports and real-time alerts directly to your Inbox with detailed activity information.
Keep track of your child’s whereabouts and smartphone activity from the convenience of your email. eBlaster Mobile records Android smartphone activity and sends both scheduled reports and real-time alerts directly to your Inbox with detailed activity information.
Norton Family gives you the tools to manage where they go, how long they are online, who they talk to, and what information they're sharing with others. Best of all, it helps you open up a positive dialogue with your children about good online habits.
There are many other monitoring programs out there. You should take the time to research all of them before choosing which one is right for you. For a complete review of 10 of the top computer monitoring programs, check out:
Top Ten Reviews: Monitoring Software - This site is independent of NortShoreDad.com, and NorthShoreDad.com is not responsible for the content of this site.
For additional information on internet predators and how you can protect your child download these publications. You will need Adobe Acrobat to view them.
Legal Note: NorthShoreDad.com or Brian Dann does not have any connection or affiliation with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children or any other company or organization. All information provided on this page is for informational purposes only and must be used and evaluated at your own risk. No technical support will be provided for any software mentioned on this site and NorthShoreDad.com or Brian Dann will not be held responsible for any issues related to any information or software discussed on this site. NorthShoreDad.com or Brian Dann does not endorse or recommend any products or companies mentioned on this site.