Posted on November 29, 2010 at 7:59 AM
Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Twitter. These are just a few of the social networking sites where kids can meet other peers and create their own page to highlight who they are. Before letting your kids interact on these or any other teen sites, fill them in on a few precautions in order to help them stay safe.
No one wants to rob their child of the joy of being a child. But, the world is a dangerous place. Even though your children are not yet adults, they need to be aware of what is going on around them. Child predators are counting on their innocence as a way to trap them. You don’t have to scare your kids, but keep them informed as a safety measure.
1. Don’t give out any personal information to anyone. It’s exciting to meet new people online, but it could be that your child’s new “friend” is a sexual predator. They will coax information out of your child over time. With a name and address or even a name and a high school, a predator can locate and stalk a child.
2. Don’t agree to meet with any online friends without parents present. Luring is the term used for online predators who use social sites to meet and talk kids into leaving their homes. It is harder to catch them if a child one day walks out to meet them instead of the predator showing up on your doorstep. When a friend wants to meet with your child, use your best judgment and always go along should you decide to let them meet someone they’ve met online.
3. Avoid sexual conversations. A sexual predator won’t come right out and ask your child sexually explicit questions. They start by gaining their trust and then easing into such conversations. The rule of thumb should be not to discuss sex at all or what your child looks like.
4. Always be honest. Pretending to be someone they are not can get your child into trouble. Acting older will attract the wrong type of person and situations. Talking bad about someone could backfire on them as well. Teach your children to remain respectful and honest at all times.
5. Never give out passwords. A friend could use your password and log in pretending to be you in a chat room. It might seem like a harmless prank but could lead to major problems for your child. Someone who is mad at your child could use their profile and say or do bad things.
You want to protect your child’s right to be a child. To that end, teach them to be safe in online situations so they don’t become a victim.