What are your children really doing online? How can your child be safe while using the computer and internet? What is the real reason some children get into trouble by using social networking sites? Here are some tips and information about internet dangers, internet predators and how to avoid being a victim.
The internet is a great tool for many things, right? Well, it definitely is for small and large businesses, school research, finding old friends and making some extra pocket money. Even though the internet has it's many vast advantages, there are also many internet dangers out there. Many dangers of which parents are either very unaware or very oblivious.
A recent survey by Symantic suggests that most parents are not aware of what their children do on the internet. Most parents underestimate internet dangers and how often their children encounter these dangers in everyday online time. Even in innocent chatting and “Making Friends”.
In fact, one in five children say that they do things online their parents won't approve of. They also report that they're online during hours their parents don't know of. Late at night online hours are very dangerous.
More than half of parents don't believe that it can happen to their children. Symantic shows that while 25% of children say that they have been approached online by strangers for personal information 2 in 10 parents think their children are immune to facing internet dangers. Those parents put too much trust in their children and while most of their children are trustworthy, it's the others who know how to con, manipulate and dupe children into thinking they can be trusted.
It's equivalent to a stranger approaching a child and luring them in with candy or a puppy – only online, the predator can act the age of the target victim and be less suspicious.
Strangers aren't the only internet danger. Especially grade and high school aged children encounter threats such as cyber bullying. This is very common on MySpace and Facebook, though it also can happen through e-mail and Instant Messaging platforms as well. There are no specific types of children who are main targets of cyber bullying. This happens for many different reasons. Some children, the bullies, pick their targets for absolutely no reason or sometimes the bullies pick their targets due to a difference from themselves. Sometimes insecurity can play a role.
In addition to parents not knowing what their children are doing online, many teens just aren't aware of the online dangers. They don't want to be aware of them and don't realize that the information they enter on their private pages may not be private at all. They may be viewable to just about anyone who wants to know any information about them.
McAffee did a survey in which they revealed that teens aged twelve to seventeen aren't aware of online privacy. Many teens think that they are infallible and invincible and believe that social networking sites and making friends are completely harmless. While in reality, the information they make public is available to strangers. That translates into a huge security danger.
While a lot of parents blame social networking sites for lack of privacy and potential dangers, they're not to blame. Teens need to be more careful about what they make public and who they approve on those sites. They need to be aware that predators come in every shape and size, especially on the internet when it is almost impossible to know who you are speaking to on the other side of a computer screen. They need to be cautious.
A lot of this can be attributed to lack of communication. Most parents aren't open to talking to their children about the dangers. 85% of children say they are very open to discussing their internet activities with their parents. That same 85% admit that their parents don't seem open to discussing their online activities with their children. I believe this is a huge problem, especially in modern days.
Is this because parents are afraid to know what's going on or because parents are not knowledgeable?
Younger parents are usually more informed and savvy about the internet and the dangers, but may be more lenient and trust their children more. Older parents know about the dangers and are aware of predators, but they aren't privy to what goes on online or even how to check what their children do on the internet.
So, how can parents be more aware of the dangers and solutions? How can they keep their kids safe?
* First, do some research. Find out the facts about the dangers that are out there. Make yourself familiar with the ways your children can be vulnerable.
* Warn your children of the dangers and make them aware of what's out there. This is as simple as the “Don't talk to strangers” conversation, only modern day.
* Keep the computer in plain view. Kitchen, living room, family room. Don't put the computer in bedrooms or areas where you can't monitor what children are doing and when they do access the internet.
* Keep logs on your computer! There are many sites that can tell you how to make sure your computer keeps a log of what your children do. This can be as simple as downloading a program that will automatically log the sites and duration of the sites, or just reviewing the history logs on your browser. This is NOT invasion of privacy. Not when you're trying to protect your children.
* Install a website blocking program that will allow you to fine tune what you do not want your children to see. Many ISPS also have this feature free of charge. They're also called Parental Controls.
* Activate parental control timers on your computer and/or ISP. It will automatically disconnect from the internet or turn the computer off at a certain time. Ensuring children aren't sneaking on when they shouldn't be. Your child also cannot turn the computer or internet back on until a certain time without a special parental control password.
* Spend time with your child online and tell them to show you some of their favorite websites.
The internet could very well expand your child's horizons and knowledge. It's an amazing tool when correctly used! Just make sure your children are safe. It's a crazy world.