The internet offers a wide expanse of knowledge and can be a great tool for learning for children. However, it can also be a dangerous place if kids are not careful. About one in seven youth internet users have received unwanted sexual solicitations and about 9% of youth have been exposed to distressing sexual content while online. We want to help keep your children safe and put together some tips on how you can protect your child from online predators.
- Have open communication
One of the most important things you can do is to have open communication with your child. Approximately 25% of kids who received sexual approach or solicitation told a parent or adult. In order to build trust with your child, you want to make sure you are supportive and understanding. Explain to your child about the potential dangers associated with using the internet and that you are always there to protect and help them.
- Explain that they should never give out any personal information
Make sure you stress to your children the importance of keeping their personal information safe, especially when interacting with someone they do not know. The internet offers anonymity so people aren’t always who they say they are. Therefore, predators use “grooming tactics” to earn trust and evaluate the children they meet.
Grooming tactics include asking about the things they like and sympathizing when they are having a bad day. Predators will also try to flatter and eventually ask for personal information.
- Install parental control software
Approximately 33% of households with internet access have protective software. Your child might not like the idea of you being able to see their online activity but let them know you are just concerned with keeping them safe. Parental control software lets you monitor and block content and sites your child should not be on.
- Monitor devices with internet access
The internet is easily accessible through the wide variety of mobile devices like phones and tablets. Make sure you monitor their usage of these devices as well as the computer. Place computers in a shared, communal space like a family room and you should not allow your child to keep their devices with them at night.