Computer games, chat rooms and social networking sites dominate the life of young people today, and sometimes parents could not keep up with this trend. The fact that children are more up-to-date about information technology than their parents is quite frightening. Children may unknowingly walk into dangerous virtual traps and become victimized by internet predators. Danger in Chat Rooms As a parent, guardian, or teacher, it is your responsibility to monitor your children’s internet activity. Viewing porn sites and chatting up strangers in the internet makes them vulnerable to identity theft or sexual harassment and abuse. Make children understand the risks and the dangers out there. Talk to your children about how the act of sharing pertinent information could be harmful. Most significantly, install necessary protection software on every PC or laptop at home so that you could be sure your children are protected. These necessary steps will further make your home and children secure from internet predators:
Install a firewall in all your PCs and laptops at home. By blocking questionable material from your computers, you are filtering sites and private chat rooms which are common venues for internet predators. Remember, every time your child posts a message, his or her email address is automatically displayed in full view to users in the site. The predator could use this information to his or her advantage.
Monitor your children’s activity. Be vigilant about knowing what sites they go to and what virtual friends they keep. It helps to keep your home computer in the study or in one corner of the living room, so that you could openly check in on your children consistently.
Orient them about the dangers of sharing valuable information online. Sending photos, divulging credit card numbers, and enumerating personal information make them extremely vulnerable. Tell them frankly about the situations that may result from sharing such information. More importantly, tell your children to never meet up with strangers they met in the chat room.
Practice appropriate behavior with children in chat rooms. Whenever your child goes online, test his or her ability to turn away from suspicious strangers by chatting with him or her yourself. Evaluate their responses and remind them how to answer suspicious chatters.
Make your child take note of inappropriate and obscene chatters. Report these entities to your internet service provider.
The Law is on Your SideThankfully, the United States has been fully implementing internet safety laws to protect children from internet predators like pedophiles and identity thieves. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) mandates that a website must first secure parental consent before it could obtain any personal information from a child.
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