Kids use social media sites, game sites and chat rooms to connect with peers from across the globe. For this reason, saying, “don’t communicate with strangers online” might not work as well as you’d like. When youngsters spend a fair amount of time on the Internet, it is inevitable they will come into contact with strangers. Sometimes, these strangers are harmless. Other times, they may use cyberspace as a hunting ground. It’s important to teach kids about dealing with strangers online so they don’t fall prey to stalkers, child predators and scammers.
First, educate your kids about the definition of a “stranger.” Tell them that strangers are people outside of their close friends and immediate family. Strangers can be people they see every day such as the school bus driver, the lady down the street and the person who delivers the mail.
Dealing with Strangers Online: Know What Sites Your Children Use
There are several social media and game sites that target children. While the site owners may have every intention of providing a safe place for youngsters to socialize, it doesn’t always turn out this way.
Predators frequent these sites and target children for inappropriate purposes. The predators often get away with this behaviour because they are extremely manipulative. They initiate contact with children and adopt personas that appeal to them.
Familiarize yourself with the sites your kids use online. Take the time to surf the sites to learn what they are all about. Read the posts, learn and understand each site’s code of conduct and privacy policies. Also, if the site requires kids to be 13 or older, don’t let them register if they are younger.
In addition, get your kids’ passwords so that you can review their profile pages often. This might seem like an invasion of privacy, but you can never be too careful when it comes to the safety of your kids.
Dealing with Strangers Online: Don’t give Out Identifiable Information Online
Preteens and teens are not as careful as parents would like them to be. Advise them not to give out any identifiable information on the sites they join. Identifying information can include full names, addresses, telephone numbers, social security numbers, school names, town names and where they work. When your kids give out this type of info, they make themselves vulnerable to stalking, online bullying, Internet predators, identity theft and fraud.
Also, explain to your kids that they need to be mindful when posting photos online. Predators can use the details in photographs to track them down. The photos your children post should not contain street signs, addresses, or license plate numbers. Also, when kids take photos to upload, teach them to never wear clothes that display their school names or logos.
Dealing with Strangers Online: Don’t Accept Things From Strangers
Identity theft is on the rise and Internet scammers are always looking for their next victims. They use such methods as links, attachments and photos to steal personal information from your family and then they rob you blind. Tell your kids never to accept anything from a stranger online – no matter how harmless the item looks.
Also, make kids aware that they should never accept items via mail or delivery from strangers. Online predators often try to win kids over by showering them with affectionate gifts and letters.
Dealing with Strangers Online: Avoid Expressing Feelings to Strangers
When kids are feeling out of place or dealing with difficult situations in life, they often go online and express their hurt by writing poetry, posting emotional video rants or posting personal journals.
Predators often target kids who are emotionally vulnerable. They might dupe youngsters into thinking they care about their struggles, or that they are going through the same things at home or at school. Predators also seduce vulnerable children by swarming them with attention, affection and kindness.
Once youngsters feel like they have found a friend who understands them, they drop their guard and become vulnerable to kidnapping, molestation or other unthinkable things. If your kids have a blog, it may be necessary for you to screen their writings and pictures before they post them.
Dealing with Strangers Online: Never Agree to Meet Strangers Offline
Kids may not consider a person they’ve interacted with online a stranger; however, when they agree to meet someone they don’t know, they put themselves in more danger than they can imagine.
It’s vital that you teach kids about strangers online. In the virtual world, identities are hard to prove. People can be anyone or anything they want to be. There have been plenty of cases where a child has welcomed a stranger into her cyber world and eventually learned that the 15-year-old boy she thought she was chatting with was actually a 50-year-old pervert.
If kids refuse to follow the safety guidelines you set for them. Restrict their computer use to homework activities. You can also contact site administrators and have your child’s account closed and her page removed.
Teaching your children about Dealing with Strangers Online is not an easy matter but teaching them about Dealing with Strangers Online is an essential part of parenting that you cannot neglect.