The Internet is an amazing place…children can learn and explore and can keep themselves entertained without leaving home. But the Internet can also be a very dangerous place for kids – predators are constantly coming up with new and creative ways to stalk children and get them to do horrible things.
I recently read an article about a woman whose two sons were playing a kid-friendly game while she made dinner. A tinychat popped up, and an unknown person asked the boys if they liked Justin Bieber. Tinychat is a video chat room, so the predator was able to see the boys. One of the children entered the chat and responded yes. The predator asked how old the boy was and where he was from. The child answered.
The predator then asked for their address so he could send them tickets to see Justin Bieber in concert, and was given their address. He then said to the boys that if they showed him their private parts he would give them free tickets.Ã¢â‚¬Â And the boy did.
Kids are naive and very trusting. This scares me, as my four year old is becoming very interested in the computer. Sure I don’t plan on allowing him to get on the internet alone anytime soon, but I know it’s not too far off before he starts asking for his own Club Penguin or Facebook page and access to other sites I might not be comfortable with.
Here are some things to keep in mind if you have children that have access to your home computer.
The computer needs to be in an open area and easily visible to others. No child needs a computer in his or her bedroom. And if they feel like they need privacy, you probably want to see exactly what they are doing online that requires privacy.
Make sure your child understands what a scam is. When people offer them free stuff, when pop-ups give them instant access to a site, or links that suggest by clicking on them could make your child an instant winner of money…those are all scams. And your child should understand that if they have questions about anything that seems too good to be true, that they need to bring it to your attention immediately.
Children should NEVER use chat rooms, instant messaging, or give any personal information to a stranger no matter how nice the person seems.
Children with email accounts should understand that they should NEVER open an email from somebody that they do not know.
YOU should regularly review any accounts, memberships, and emails that your child has access to. Make sure that if they have email they are using it properly and safely.
For more info on what and how to teach your children safety online go to www.kidsafefoundation.org.