Prevalence of Online Predators
The government of the US predicts there are about 50,000 sexual predators online throughout the world, with the US being the leader in child pornography. For this reason, it’s believed that out of the 50,000 predicted sexual predators, most of them belong to the US. About 1 in 25 youngsters receive sexual solicitations and most of these episodes are predicted to result in actual victimizations. The surprising factor is a lot of these solicitations come from people that the youngster knows in person, which makes this entire situation even scarier.
About 1 in 25 youngsters that are solicited will actually engage with the sexual predator by sending sexual pictures of themselves. A portion of them will agree to meet the stranger in person.How to Protect Your Children from Online Predators
Many parents will ban their children from using technology altogether, which is probably the unhealthiest approach for protecting your children from cyber crime. The world is advancing towards technology, not away from it, and the current generation will be using technology for the rest of their lives. Instead of keeping them away from it, teach them how to use it safely. After all, going out on the street is dangerous too, but you don’t lock your child inside the house, instead you teach them how to be safe.
Start by teaching your children how to use the internet and set guidelines to what they are and aren’t allowed to do. The legal age for any child to set up a profile on social media and online dating platforms, such as Facebook or Meetme.com, is 13 years old. Thus, before your child turns 13, completely forbid the use of these sites.
When your child does start using the internet for socializing purposes, make sure they understand not to give away confidential information, such as contact numbers, house address or family schedules. Also, carefully explain to them why it’s dangerous to send or post photographs of themselves to strangers online. Monitor the online activities of your kids from an early age by remotely spy on cell phone, so they consider it as a norm. If you start monitoring their activities at a later time, you will be met with anger and rebellious behavior, because they will find that it’s an invasion of their privacy.
Encourage your kids to only socialize online with people they already know in person and to avoid everyone else on the internet. Also, explain to them that not every stranger they meet on the internet is real and many of them could be using fake photographs.
Keeping open communication and treating your children in a friendly manner will make them comfortable enough to share everything with you. This way, if they experience something inappropriate on the internet, you will be the first to know. Use your “open communication” time to explain to them that topics, such as sex, threats of violence, drugs, hate speech, and other illegal activities should not be discussed online.
As easy it may seem to just keep your children off the internet till the end of time, it’s quite improbable. Today’s world is incomplete without its digital counterpart, so it’s best to train your children to take care of themselves.