The internet is a great source of information and can be used to keep in touch with people around the world. With all the beauty and convenience the internet can offer, it’s also a place full of danger. Scams, predators, bullies and many others are all over and there are lots of sites you wouldn’t want to become available for your children to view. Sadly, the internet does not have a good regulatory board that controls what’s being uploaded online. It can really go out of control and if you’re a parent this is actually quite scary.
As parents it is our obligation to protect our children as much as we can. What happens to our children is partly our fault and it is vital that we try to protect them even when we are not allowed. This may seem impossible if you really think about it but then there are also many tools that the high-tech era has to offer that makes it much easier for parents to be in control.
Parents should know about the internet. Though many parents think that the internet is already beyond them, it is vital to still try and learn about the dangers that the internet has so we can protect our children from them. If you won’t become suspicious about your child’s internet use then you may just be shocked when all of a sudden your child became a victim of an online predator, a bully, a scammer or be exposed to explicit contents that their innocent eyes and minds shouldn’t have been exposed to.
What Parents Must Know Regarding their Children’s Net Usage
One thing you must know is that your child can be lured by those predators. You may think your child is just chatting with a friend but it may be that your child is already chatting with an online predator pretending to be the same age as your child. It could be that the online predator already knows your child and found a way to be in touch with him/her online. Your child may think he/she has a lot in common with this cyber friend and later on he/she becomes comfortable and willing to meet up. The next thing you know, your child had been victimized which is any parent’s worst fear.
The parents of children who has fallen victims to these predators can only wish that they did something before it turned to the worst. Most of these parents don’t spend time to really know about the activities of their children because of their busy life at work and doing errands. They think that since their child is just staying at home anyways there’s nothing that can harm them. Wrong! The internet connects you to practically anybody even when you’re just in your own bedroom. There are so many things that could happen that can exploit your child without them really knowing it and unfortunately, without you even knowing it. Your child may have been convinced to send private photos to the “friend” and later on that photo was published online for everyone else to see.
There are also online predators that actually inform the child about their real age. They give gifts or promise the child with things that they’ll give to make them feel special. Once the child feels safe with this predator, they can be lured to meet up and we all know that a child meeting up with a strange adult is not really a good thing and you wouldn’t want that to be your child with a strange man/woman.
You must also know that an online predator can be a friendly one or a forceful one. Your child may either feel secure with this person or your child is scared enough to let him/her follow this predator’s every request. Whatever the case, your child is trapped unless you intervene. Make sure to always ask your child and also take necessary precautions. There are some software available that can let you track down your child’s online activities. Even chat messages can be tracked. By doing so, you can spot whether or not your child is already in touch with a predator. If that’s the case, call the police right away.
You must also know that no matter how smart your child is, he/she is still naive and innocent. You may have disciplined your child well, he or she may have excellent grades in school but it does not change the fact that they still have not had enough experiences in life to make them think maturely. Predators take advantage of this naivety and innocence. They are predators for a reason, they want to get your child and they know exactly how to do it especially those who already preyed on other children in the past.
Social networking is the hype today. Kids and adults alike are going crazy over these sites that they spend a lot of time each day in these sites. Both children and adults must know how a social networking site works. If you are familiar with those commercials talking about being responsible in what you post online then you already know that when you post a photo on any site, even when you take it down after that photo could spread like wildfire. Anyone can get a copy of the photo you uploaded and that photo could haunt you even for the rest of your life.
Children are prone to making this type of mistake. They think it’s cool to post photos of them being drunk or showing off some parts of their body that are not supposed to be viewed by strangers. Children can be quite innocent especially the younger ones for thinking that there’s no harm in posting such photos. Truth is, even parents make the same mistake. They post photos of their child in the nude thinking that only family and friends can see their cute little one only to realize later on that it was set to public. Pedophiles just love such photos and they may just end up copying those photos and it can circulate to fellow pedophiles. It is such a horror especially for parents when they are the ones who made the mistake and put their children to a horrible shame. Do remember that what you post online can be viewed by just about anyone even when you try to keep it in just a small crowd of people. If you think that the photo you want to upload is not appropriate if viewed by a predator then it is best not to post it at all. Parents must inform their children about this type of danger so they too would become aware. Social networking can be a lot of fun and you can meet friends you haven’t been in touch with for years. Let’s keep them that way. Let’s enjoy them the way they’re intended to when they were created for its members. We cannot blame these networking sites for something that we are the ones responsible for. They are just the media, we are the ones who uploaded the photos.
How to Protect your Child from Social Networking Sites
It depends on how young your child is and how cooperative he/she wants to be with you. If possible, it would be great if your child will give you their password. This way you can easily monitor the private messages and information to keep them safe in case there are harmful people getting in touch with them.
If you can, create your own page too and add your child. This way you will have access on their page and what they are posting. You can also check out his/her friends’ list to see if there are some you don’t know then ask your child who that person is. Open a communication line with your child but try not to be too nosy and disrespectful of your child’s privacy. Just know where to draw the line. Your child would want to feel respected by you too.
Check the photos uploaded by your child. Sometimes they get too excited to post pictures without actually thinking about the possible effects of it on their image. Be the one to check it out and inform them about the consequences of the photos they uploaded. If the photo is demeaning or is showing more than what the public should see, demand to take the photo off as soon as possible to lessen the damage.
How to Control Your Child’s Chatting Activity
Tell your child that it’s alright to chat with the people he/she already knows. If she wants to chat with his/her friend then she can chat all she wants. After all, they are his/her friends in real life anyway. Just tell the child never to go online and try to chat with anonymous individuals. Inform them about the facts regarding these online predators and how they can pose as really friendly chat friends before they attack. Raise the awareness on your child so they too would be cautious and avoid chatting with strangers.
Tell your child that the same rule applies online as it is in person. If the person is a stranger, better to avoid interaction. The only difference though is that online you don’t actually see the person instead you only know of the persona they try to have and that can be deceiving. If the person says he/she is also from the same school, ask for important details then confirm it when you’re in school with your child or ask your child to confirm it. If it’s a predator, most likely he/she made up the identity or stole the identity of a student there.
Webcams are great tools as it lets you talk to another online and actually see the image of that person. It makes you feel you’re just talking to a long distance friend or relative like he/she is just in front of you. There are many things you can do with a webcam like taking photos and sending them instantly online or taking a video that you can upload online. With these many benefits of owning a webcam comes the danger to it as well.
Online predators or malicious individuals can use it to lure your child into taking photos of themselves that you really won’t approve of. Just imagine what else the predator can request from your child when he/she is alone, chatting with someone online and having a webcam. If you can’t monitor your child’s webcam use then it’s best to take it out when you’re not home then return it when you can safely guide your child from its use. Again, awareness is key. Your child may be young and naive but they can hear and understand when you try to talk to them and explain the pros and cons of using a webcam so they too would be cautious enough to use it only for safe reasons and not for something they may regret later.
Online Scams and Phishing
Another danger posed online is with online scams and phishing. There are sites that can be interesting to your child and all of a sudden a pop-up appears. It asks the child to type in some details in order to view the next page or to view another site that they find interesting as well. Excitedly, they type in the details and the next thing you know they typed in important details of themselves or they installed malicious software into your computer. Many viruses and malwares are acquired because of unknowingly downloading them and kids are susceptible to this.
Also, there are online scams. Don’t give your credit card details to your child as he/she may type it in to malicious webpages that steals your account details. There are many other types of scams. There are malicious individuals who send out emails telling people that they’ve won something or someone wants to give them a big amount of money. The email letter appears convincingly real and many have fallen victim to this. Not only kids fall for this as a few adults have already been victimized. They money transfer to the person claiming they have won or will give them an inheritance and they don’t hear from them again.
Safety on Online Games
Parents may think that a game is just a game and it can’t do any harm to your kids. Unfortunately, this is wrong. Online gaming is now very popular especially to kids. Online games on virtual worlds allow chatting between players. You must know that not all players are also kids as some adults lurk into these online worlds too. Some expletive words may be exchanged or your kids could fall victim to virtual bullies. Make sure you also monitor the online gaming activities of your kids and disable private messaging as possible.
It’s not only online virtual games that can pose a threat. Some flash games may also be unsafe to young children because of the graphical images they contain. You can block online gaming sites with R-rated games such as hentai games and violent games. You wouldn’t want your child to be exposed to these types of games until they reach a certain age that they could handle it. As much as possible, block all sites with Hentai.
Online Games Addiction
This is something that parents have to take control of before their child even becomes addicted. If you allow your child to play online games for hours then you are actually influencing them to become addicted to it. Their body would yearn to play these games everyday and they’ll sacrifice sleep, their studies and even personal social interactions just to spend hours in front of the computer playing their favorite games. Don’t allow this to happen by giving them schedule of when they can just play these games. Set a limit and stick to it. This way they won’t have the chance to be addicted to it.
Also, it’s a great idea to make gaming act as a reward for something they did well or achieved. They can only play these games when they do something that you liked. It will motivate them to continuing making you proud and happy by being responsible to achieve what they need to achieve and receive a reward for their actions.
Cyberbullies- What We Can Do About It
It’s unfortunate that bullies are using the internet to do more damage to someone they prey on. There are many videos posted on how fellow teens are beating another and uploading the videos like it’s something they are proud of. It is an alarming thing for parents and we should all be aware that bullying exists. It existed when parents were kids themselves and it continues to happen now. You wouldn’t want your child to become a victim of this and you must make sure your child is protected.
Cyberbullies could cause the victim deep depression. Some kids even result to suicide because they no longer feel their lives are worth living anymore because of the constant attack.
Parents can do something about it. Social Networking Sites and even YouTube will remove such hateful messages when you report it. There is a report link that you can use and they will remove it if it is hateful. Also, if your child receives hateful messages tell them that they don’t need to worry about it and just ignore it. Make them feel good about who they are and erase the effects of those hateful messages so they won’t get depressed. When a child is attacked on their phones and emails, change the number and email addresses quickly. Your child doesn’t need to read those hurtful messages. In social networking, make sure to remove friends who are sending them hateful messages or report them. If you can, copy the hateful messages then bring it and talk to the parents of the bully. For sure they will reprimand their child. If not, go to a higher person such as the principal to reprimand the bully. If things turn worse, create a group and fight for the rights of the children being bullied. Raise awareness and surround your child with other kids their age who supports and love them.
Antivirus Software for Protection
You must not go online when your computer is not equipped with antivirus software. The internet is not safe without it because there are a lot of viruses, malwares and pop-ups that won’t just be an inconvenience but can destroy many of your important files. Here are some of the popular free & paid antivirus software you can find:
- AVG – A great free antivirus. It’s great to install on computers that are used for gaming as it does not decrease the performance capability of the computer while it prevents the intrusion of viruses. It also informs you when a web page is not secure so you have the option of whether or not you’d proceed with visiting the site. The paid version of AVG protects you from identity and banking theft.
- Avast – Another great free software for protection. It does not go heavy on your computer so gamers would love this installed. The paid version also offers identity protection as well as anti-spam.
- Norton – A popular paid antivirus but can slow down the startup of your computer especially in old computers. It scans your computer daily and its definition files are regularly updated.
- Kaspersky – Can slow down your computer but it’s one of the most loved antivirus too. If you suspect you have a keylogger, it lets you type in your passwords without using the keyboard to prevent password theft.
- McAfee – Can slow down computer but is great for blocking malicious software. The downside is when you try playing online games it can block it thinking that it’s also a malicious website. Disabling the application during this time is recommended but make sure you enable it right after.
The internet is a great tool and a household without it is missing a great opportunity to open their world to quick access to news, updates, information, facts, reports, online gaming, and connection to people you love but lives far away. The internet is not perfectly made but it’s all we’ve got right now. Maybe someday the security would be improved so we no longer have to worry about all these things. But for now, we can’t be lazy when it comes to protecting our loved ones from the dark side of the internet. Take precaution so you can sleep well at night knowing your children are safe from all types of internet monsters.