You can Help Prevent Stranger Danger on the Net

By Robin Aurelius posted May 27, 2016 14:54

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Memorial Day denotes the beginning of summer vacation for kids. You have summer camp and other activities lined up for them. They have been taught from an early age to beware of strangers. But how do you protect them from their trusted friend…the online world?

Don’t get me wrong, the Internet is a great tool. Today, kids use the Internet with an ease that is enviable. However, with all the openness of the Internet comes danger, too.

What danger? There are predators lurking. They  come in various forms, from cyberbullying  to App scams. Each has its own set of issues.

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, sextortion,  videos, websites, or fake profiles are all examples of cyberbullying. The most common means of contact (89%) are either chat rooms or instant messages. Unfortunately, 76% of the incidents involve girls.

 According to Wikipedia, a mobile app is a computer program designed to run on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablet computers. An App scam can be as simple as an in-app purchase. What looks like a free app could end up costing a parent hundreds of dollars. If a child needs more “gems” to play the game, the cost could range from 99 cents or $19.99. If a child plays this particular game for hours at a time, the in-app purchases could add up quickly! Rapper Kanye West ranted about this recently when he received a whopping bill after his daughter used his tablet.  “We give the iPad to our child and 'every 5 minutes there's a new purchase'!!!' he continued. ‘If a game is made for a 2-year old, just allow them to have fun.”

What can you do to protect your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or friends' kids?

  • Encourage your kids to tell you immediately if they, or someone they know, is being cyberbullied.
  • Establish rules on appropriate technology use. Where they can go online and what they are permitted to do online.

  • Password protect app purchases and don’t give the password to your child.
  • Keep communication lines open. Talk to children about the possible dangers of Internet use (age appropriate, of course). Ask where they’re going, what they are doing and who they are doing it with.
  • Controls such as programming that can block inappropriate content, set time limits. Monitor your kids Internet use, including streaming video, frequented websites and gaming.
  • Personal Information – Discourage them from giving personal information to people they meet online (such as pictures, email addresses, passwords). Compromised passwords could alter their control over their online identities and activities.

Remember when your school record was your “permanent record”? Well, the Internet is a person’s permanent record. Help your kids become savvy about what they post or say online. Once something is posted, it is part of that permanent record. Be sure that your children understand that this temporary “snap chat” picture could be copied in and spread across the cyber sphere. Encourage them to think about what they post online. Should strangers see, only friends, or friends of friends.

Kids will try to spread their wings towards independence. Just because you have friended them on Facebook doesn’t mean that is their only account. They can have accounts on numerous other networks that their parents know nothing about.

The United Kingdom created a great video to show children to think twice about what they reveal online. Please feel free to share this video with others. 

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