WHAT IF YOUR CHILD MET AN ADULT ONLINE?

Online Dangers – Click here 

( post tagged for Malaysiakini by wattahack? ) 

 

Despite the warnings of Internet predators, teenagers continue to post personal details about their life online.

“My dad doesn’t even know I have a Myspace [profile], because if he did he would flip!” says Megan, age 16.

“My [phone] number was on Facebook and I shouldn’t have put my number on Facebook!” says Savannah, age 15.

Samuel Rayburn, 18, says kids know the danger. “Putting [your personal information] all over the Internet — they know somebody is going to see it.”

According to a survey by the University of New Hampshire, one-third of teens post personal information on the web, including their real name, phone number and even their home address. That can be dangerous.

“If I put this out there, everyone in the world can see this, potentially every single person on the planet can see that,” explains pediatrician Dr. Ken Haller.

“You never know who’s looking at your stuff, and what creeps are out there,” says 18-year-old Erica Bryant.

According to experts, the best way for parents to keep “creeps” away is to pay close attention to what your kids are doing on the Internet. Monitor where they go, whom they talk to, and how much time they spend online. And don’t back down when your teenager puts up a fight.

“I think this time of complete and total privacy — this thing about kids need their privacy — is bogus,” explains Madison County Sheriff Detective Carol Doyle. “Put spyware on the computer, and ask who they are talking to on the computer, and parents are going to get flak back from their kids, absolutely!”

But don’t let that stop you, experts say. And most importantly, keep the computer in an open place where you can easily see the screen.

“It should be in a place where if the parents are walking past, the parents should have some idea of what’s going on and the kids should know that,” says Haller.

Tips for Parents

  • Parents and educators need to carefully supervise children’s activities while they are on the Internet because millions of children online form a large pool from which predators can select victims. (NetSmartz)
  • Tell your child to never meet in person with anyone they first “met” online. (NetSmartz)
  • Talk to children about what to do if they see something online that makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, or confused. Show them how to turn off the monitor and emphasize that it’s not their fault if they see something upsetting. Remind children to tell a trusted adult if they see something that bothers them online. (NetSmartz)
  • Keep the computer in a public area of your house, and look over your child’s shoulder frequently to see what he/she is doing online. (Virtual Global Taskforce)
  • Use parental control software and spam filters to reduce unsolicited emails and correspondence. (Virtual Global Taskforce)
  • Encourage your child to use moderated chatrooms. Moderators “watch” chatrooms for unsafe or inappropriate language and behaviors. (Virtual Global Taskforce)
  • Notify the police if you have concerns about someone your child has met online. (Virtual Global Taskforce)
  • Don’t let your children send their photograph to someone they met online. (Think! Before You Post)
  • Explore the Internet with your children. It’s the best way to see what they see online. (Federal Trade Commission)
  • Ask your child to give you his/her Myspace and Facebook passwords, and visit their profile online. Talk with your children about any inappropriate language, information or photos that they have posted, and why these may be dangerous. (Stacey DeWitt, CEO, Connect with Kids)
  • Create a Cyberspace Passport that defines what is and is not okay for your child to do online. In addition, write down the procedures for your child to follow if inappropriate material appears or if they find themselves in an uncomfortable situation or conversation. (Federal Trade Commission)
  • Search “child safety online” for helpful information, including sites such as www.texasextension.tamu.edu/techtips/MKT-3377.pdf

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