As a parent we consider a number of online dangers. We worry about cyber bullying. We worry about our children meeting the wrong people. We worry about them posting too much information or information that is inappropriate. But a recent article at News.com/AU may bring to light one danger you may not have thought off when your children are online.
"I'm a parents' worst nightmare, " a man says in the video accompanying a news article about social media dangers for kids. Another one says "It's so easy to mislead children because they are so naive," another adult admits.
With the prevalent use of social media sites like Snap Chat, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, just to name a few the known dangers to children have been highly publicized. Parents are cautioned to monitor their child's online content and use and children and teens are cautioned to consider who their friends really are. There have been television shows and reports of men meeting kids in real life with the expectation of sex after meeting these children online. But one danger parents also need to consider is the fear and the complete lack of trust that your children may encounter after finding out, even online, that they person they thought was a friend is more of a fiend.
The girl in the video reports, "I'm terrified, he's seen my face." She wonders could he find me? Would I be hurt because I turned him into the police? The terrifying fear that she experiences day and night is not only a trust issue, but the fear that at some point this person would be right next to her and she would never even know.
Here mother reports, "He never laid a finger on her but the damage done was incredible."
So as we consider our digital parenting skills let's also consider these steps to help keep our children safe:
- Place the computer in a room where everyone will be. It's a lot harder to hide what you are doing when there is a POS (parent over shoulder).
- Delete geotags on images which you share or you allow your children to share. It gives predators not only information for locating your children but also a common topic they can use to infiltrate your child's account. (Remember me we met at ....or I was there too!)
- Consider being a friend on your child's friends list or knowing their password and check their accounts yourself.
- Use software to limit the time spent on the computer as well as what pages are visited. You can also create their own account on the computer as well as their own set of bookmarks so they have a list of approved sites available to them quickly and easily.
- Check the browser history.
- Make posts for friends eyes only, not public.
- Most importantly, talk to your kids. Keep the lines of communication open.
Remember home is not the only place that your child can get online. Make sure you have the online safety discussions with them just as you would the stranger danger discussion. Once they are aware of the dangers they are better able to protect themselves when they encounter them.