When we speak of online safety for kids, our first priority should be setting up a guard against online predators. These obnoxious people are everywhere on the Internet, just waiting with their net to trap an easy prey. Parental guidance and a little awareness can go a long way into helping your children avoid online predators.
The Internet has empowered sexual predators to perform their daily chores even better and more effectively – looking for easy targets online. And who could be easier than kids – the innocent and gullible minds who know nothing about how vulnerable they are. And with the exploding world of social network, it’s a gala time for online predators. Given the unsuspecting nature of kids, it is parents who must pull their socks up and take matters into their hands. In this post we help you understand the signs of an online predator, and how you can help your kids avoid them.
Signs of an Online Predator:
1. A sudden out of the blue ‘Hi’ is not harmless. But a ‘Hi’ followed by questions about your kid’s gender, school and home address, should be taken for signs of an online predator.
2. Online predators are one the nicest people on Earth, Mars, Venus, and probably every planet. They pretend to have the most attentive ear. They agree to almost everything their victims have to say.
3. Such criminals overwhelm their targets with ‘undivided attention’, affection, sympathy and sometimes, even expensive gifts.
4. Sexual predators turn a normal conversation into physical intimacy. They serve their victims with explicit images, videos and convince them to get indulge in cybersex.
5. Once a sexual predator has successfully established their connection with their victim, they will try to coax the other person into a more private space like instant messaging, SMS, and telephone call to name a few.
6. Predators also persuade their victims to meet them in person; in most cases, for sex.
7. They seem to get too friendly and too mushy only after a few chats. They pretend to be the knight in shining armor who has come to dispel the darkness from their victim’s world.
8. A very important characteristic feature of any online predator is their attempt to turn the victim against their family and friends. The criminal would somehow manipulate the victim into thinking that their family do not understand them or care about them. This is a potent trick that predators use especially on teenagers who are lonely, socially inactive, sexually confused, have few or no friends, or going through an emotional loss or pain.
9. Experienced online predators do not just go looking for their victims online. They do a thorough homework before going for the kill. It may happen that your kid’s online buddy knows things about them that they have not made public or told anyone.
Common Targets of Online Predators:
- Children who were abused in their early lives.
- Children who have few or no friends, socially inert or face challenges in getting along with their peers.
- Kids raised by single parents.
- Children who usually expect rewards (monetary or otherwise) for their cooperation.
- Children with low self-esteem, low self-confidence and those who kept getting bullied.
How Parents can help Kids Stay Safe from Online Predators
It goes without saying that, parenthood is the most powerful weapon you have to help your children build a better world for themselves. But given the growth of technology, a little awareness and education on cyber safety does not harm. Here’s are some steps we recommend you to take:
1. Speak, talk, communicate! There is nothing like a healthy communication between you and your kids. Without getting too nosy, just try to know what their online world is like.
2. Help them identify the bad people online; what does the term ‘online predator’ mean, what kind of dangers lurk on the Internet, etc.
3. Let them know that they can approach you about anything they come across on the Internet, good or bad (bad, especially).
4. Tell them that discussing their issues with an older sibling, a close friend or you is more helpful than posting them online.
5. Encourage your children to post age-appropriate content over social networking platforms.
6. Help them realize the risks behind posting their personal information (gender, name, address, phone number, etc.) publicly. This post talks about all such risks.
7. Letting your children access the computer and the Internet in their bedrooms, may not be a good idea. Place it in a family room. This will discourage them into resorting to risky behaviors such as webcam chats. Such measures also deter predators as they become less capable of manipulating their targets.
8. Helping your kids realize online dangers is one thing and putting them into a water-tight compartment is another. Children have their own private world; the sense of privacy is even greater in teenagers. So, you have to handle this smartly. Parental control tools are built with the intention of online safety for kids. With these tools you can block inappropriate websites, and decide when and how much your kids can use the Internet. Quick Heal parental control offers all these essential features.
To conclude, let’s not be judgmental about any inappropriate actions or behavior of our children on the Internet or online. They are children; they do stupid things. Let’s take these incidents as a learning experience, and make something good out of them. Stay safe!