I hope you will enjoy today’s guest post by Amy Reynolds. See you next time. - Dr. E…
In today’s cyber society, it seems as though we do everything online. We have the internet available to us at home, school, work, and even on the go. That being said, our teens are probably even more connected than we are…and since there are dangers lurking around every “.com” and any “.net” can snare even the experienced web browser, it is crucial that we safeguard our kids and teach them how to make smart and safe choices when using the internet to avoid falling victim to online predators.
Talk with your teens. Keep the communication open with your children so that they feel comfortable talking with you about what’s going on in their lives. This way if they have any questions or concerns they won’t be afraid to bring them up. As a parent, you need to stay up to date on current issues and risks so that you can be a resource for your children, knowing what they are experiencing on and off the internet. Discuss how you can help them make safe choices and then review the proper precautions they need to take to steer clear of the danger that comes with meeting strangers online.
How to safeguard your teens. Teens are connected through the internet and using a variety of different online services, each having some safety concerns that you should address. You can’t always be with them, or monitor their every move, but here are some ways in which you can help to protect them against online predators:
- Know who is connecting with your teens online and set rules for social networking, instant messaging, emailing, online gaming and use of webcams.
- Surf the web with your kids so that they can show you what their online interests are.
- Use email filters on your computer.
- Keep the dialogue open for discussion.
What to look for. If being victimized by an internet stranger, your teen might not approach you right away about it. If you notice some questionable behavior displayed by your child, there is a possibility that they are being exploited by a predator online. Watch out for the following and decide if you need to take action and intervene:
- Your teen is spending excessive amounts of time on the internet.
- They become upset or angry when they cannot access the web.
- Your teen is withdrawing from family, friends, hobbies and activities they once used to enjoy.
- When you enter the room, your teen turns off the computer or minimizes the page.
- You find inappropriate images or websites on your computer’s history.
- Strange numbers appear on your telephone bill.
- Your teen is receiving random gifts in the mail from someone you’ve never heard of before.
Tips for your teens. In your conversations about safety on the web, be sure to cover these tips with your teens so they know how to protect themselves from a potentially hazardous encounter with an online stranger.
- Do not disclose any personal information online. Make sure you never display or exchange identifying details with any stranger on the web, or on your online profile for that matter. This includes last names, phone numbers, addresses, personal emails, passwords, financial information, or anything else you wouldn’t want someone you don’t know to have.
- Do not meet up with strangers. If you meet someone online, it is never a good idea to meet up with that person. Don’t tell anyone your schedule, where you will be hanging out, etc. As much as you think you may know someone through some seemingly innocent exchanges online, people are often not who they say they are.
- Do not fill out any questionnaires that are emailed to you. Even if you receive these from your friends, know that these get forwarded to many people. All of the personal things that you fill out could get forwarded to a stranger, who could use them for harmful purposes.
- Use caution when posting pictures. Putting pictures up online can be a fun way to interact and share with your friends. As fun as it may be, however, it is best to exercise good judgment when doing this. Make sure the photos you post of yourself are appropriate and not revealing. Inappropriate pictures of yourself can be misleading and often have the ability to generate unwanted attention from someone with bad intentions.
- Tell an adult if something is wrong. If you feel uncomfortable, frightened, or like you are being targeted by an online predator, cease all contact with that person and immediately confide in an adult you trust who can help you.
This guest post is brought to us by Amy Reynolds, an author of articles surrounding topics of online safety and dating for Best Adult Dating Sites.