Protecting Your Children from Online Predators

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Anonymity on the Internet is much easier than in the real world. The Internet allows people to hide their identities or pretend to be someone else. This potentially can present a danger to children and teens that are online due to online predators will always try to lure them into face-to-face meetings, sexual encounters and may send obscene materials or request the kids send pictures of themselves. Therefore, now more than ever, it is important that your kids are taught to be diligent and on guard when they are online. Parents can also be proactive with this by limiting the screen time for their children using some of these screen time tools and tips.

Optimum will be providing you with some tips about speaking to your children about online predators, cyberbullying and cyberharassment.

Since they are curious, spend a lot of time on the Internet and want to be accepted, teens are more at risk from online predators and may willingly talk to a predator even though they know it is dangerous. Due to the anonymity of the Internet, teens may think they are in love with the person online, making them even more susceptible to agreeing to a face-to-face meeting. Limiting the amount of time teens spend on the Internet is another way to lower the risk and Optimum recently provided information to help parents to have some control over a child’s screen time.

Talking to Kids about Online Predators

Before beginning this topic, it should be stated that while your child may not necessarily be contacted by a predator, the possibility does exist. We have provided some guidelines that can help you speak to your children about to help them stay safe from online predators.

  1. Ensure that photos or screen names which may result in unwanted attention from the predator are not used or sent
  2. While many people online are nice, predators may use flattery to begin a relationship with a child, especially a teen. While they should not be suspicious of everyone, they should be careful.
  3. Should anyone want to get personal information or talk in a sexually suggestive nature, end the conversation immediately
  4. Online predators will pretend to be children or teenagers to talk to kids online.
  5. People are not always who they say they are since predators may provide a false name or photo and other details to appear as someone closer to the child’s age
  6. Ensure that, under any circumstances, allow your child to arrange to meet with someone you met online. Predators may try to arrange a face-to-face meeting with a child or teen
  7. Be sure to tell your child to talk to a parent or trusted adult if anyone makes them feel uncomfortable online. Save any communication to be able to report to authorities

For even more tips and advice on speaking to your children about online predators, view statistics and more please visit the Crimes Against Children Research Center.

 

What are Cyberbullying and Cyberharassment

Bullying that occurs online is called cyberbullying, this can occur through instant messaging, text messages, emails, and social networks. These cyber bullies can be the same age or even older than the person being bullied. If someone that bullies is an adult, this is cyberharassment or cyber-stalking.

Cyberbullying can take many forms and here are some examples:

  1. Through instant messaging, text messaging, online games having hurtful things written about your child or to your child
  2. Having derogatory messages written on social networking sites
  3. Sharing or posting photos or videos that could be considered embarrassing
  4. Humiliating someone by creating a fake social media profile

For more information on Internet safety or to learn more about cyberbullying please visit WiredSafety.org.

Who to contact if your child has a problem?

After discussing with your child and you still think your child has been contacted by an online predator. Here are resources you can contact to seek immediate help.

  1. Local police: If you feel that your child is in immediate danger, you should call 911. Additionally, call your local police department's non-emergency number to report the problem
  2. CyberTipline: You can contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children by visiting www.cybertipline.com or calling (800) 843-5678. You will have the ability to report crimes against children, such as the enticing children for sexual acts online, material of an obscene nature sent to children, and child pornography.

It is our hope that this article has helped provide you with some tips, advice and additional resources to help you keep your children safe online. Feel free to come back to this page if you forget some of these tips and resources and to see if there are any updates to this article.

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Cyberbullying can take many forms and here are some examples:

  • Through instant messaging, text messaging, online games having hurtful things written about your child or to your child.
  • Having derogatory messages written on social networking sites
  • Sharing or posting photos or videos that could be considered embarrassing
  • Humiliating someone by creating a fake social media profile
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After discussing with your child and you still think your child has been contacted by an online predator. Here are resources you can contact to seek immediate help.

  • Local police: If you feel that your child is in immediate danger, you should call 911. Additionally, call your local police department's non-emergency number to report the problem.
  • CyberTipline: You can contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children by visiting www.cybertipline.com or calling (800) 843-5678. You will have the ability to report crimes against children, such as enticing children for sexual acts online, material of an obscene nature sent to children, and child pornography.
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