Educating Teens About Online Predators
With the recent sextortion case out of Florida, parents are realizing once again how vulnerable their children can be when online. It is essential that parents and children both understand the realities of online predators. Here are some key facts and information to help you properly educate your teen on the dangers of online predators.
According to Crimes Against Children Research Center:
- 25% of children have been exposed to unwanted pornographic material online
- One in five children who regularly use the Internet have received unwanted sexual solicitation through the Web
- 75% of children are willing to share personal information online in exchange for goods and services.
- 65% of online sex offenders used social networking sites to get home and school information about the victim.
- Approximately 25% of children will report sexual crimes to a trusted adult or parent.
Education is the most important way to protect children from online predators. A clear and very real understanding about the dangers of Internet use, especially the use of chat rooms, is vital. Children must understand that predators will spend hours researching their victims. They also must realize that people lie online and use fake identities.
Predators often use social media and chat sites to learn about their targets. Children must know how to protect themselves. Teach children to keep personal information private. Have them use a screen name instead of a real one. Let them know they should never share their address (email or home), phone number, school, or town with anyone in a chat room as this information can be used to hurt them. They should also know to never meet with someone they met online without first telling an adult.
Parents should also monitor their child’s Internet usage in an effort to protect them. Surprisingly, only 1/3 of households are actively protecting their children from online predators through the use of filtering or blocking software (Center for Missing and Exploited Children). There are a variety of options for monitoring children online. Choose the one that works best for you and use it regularly. Children should be told that their actions are being monitored so it cannot be construed as spying.
It is the responsibility of parents to keep their children safe. Take the time to ensure your child has a deep understanding about the dangers that lurk online. If you have questions, give us a call at (910) 486-5437.