Child Internet Safety Tips
The internet doesn't have to be a scary place as long as you and your kids have a clear understanding of how to avoid potential pitfalls. Ultimately, you love them and want what's best for them, and they want and need to know that you care and will help them make good choices.
Sex crimes aren't the only way your children can be impacted by contact with others online. Over the past 20 years, cyberbullying has moved into the public spotlight due to a number of teen suicides resulting from online harassment.
First and foremost, the best way to keep our children safe online is to model appropriate behavior and safe browsing habits. When they know what's expected, and we're open and honest about what's out there and how to avoid it, we can minimize any potential negative experiences our kids may face online.
If you're especially concerned about your child's information staying safe, you may consider investing in a VPN service (Virtual Private Network). This tool, on which we offer comprehensive information, encrypts all information you or your child enter into websites, providing an additional layer of protection against hacking. In addition to safeguarding your child's privacy, a VPN is a useful tool for allowing you and your kids to access streaming service such as Netflix when abroad.
Anyone with a teenager has no doubt worried about their child participating in the practice known as "sexting". Activity can range from suggestive text messages being exchanged all the way to fully nude photos being sent and/or received. I'm including this topic under the general umbrella of child internet safety because so much of youth internet access happens on mobile devices, and sexting has become a major area of concern for parents of connected kids.
When establishing contact with a child, some predators will very quickly turn to sexually explicit talk, maybe even trying to send or receive pornographic images. However, just as in the real world, predators online will usually try to build a relationship with a potential victim. They may pretend to be a girl or boy of a similar age to the child they are approaching. Online predators are usually very good at communicating with children in a manner that makes kids feel comfortable. They provide an open ear and if there are existing issues between the child and his or her parents, the predators will try to drive a further wedge to enhance the problems and gain more intimate access to the child.
While you shouldn't panic and become overly controlling with your child's mobile device, you should definitely be aware and on the alert for any potential inappropriate texting activity. According to the Department of Justice's National Sex Offender Public Website, 26% of teenagers admit to participating in sexting.
Call the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children at (800) 843-5678 if you're aware of the sending, use, or viewing of child pornography online. Contact your local law enforcement agency or the FBI if your child has received child pornography via the Internet.