There are many methods by which predators exploit children, all of which are very effective but subtle and easy to overlook. They make the child trust them, and then they begin to take advantage.
Thankfully there are a few ways by which you can ensure that your kids stay safe on and offline.
1. Teach Kids the Dangers of the Online world
Talk to your children about the dangers online. Help them understand how essential it is for them not to talk to strangers, especially online Because the people they are talking to may not be who they claim to be.
Teach your teen that If the person they’re interacting with has many of the same interests they do, it is often not a coincidence. Online predators create profiles that mirror those of the target victim to make the child like them and start a conversation.
2. Talk About Revealing Personal Information
Teach your child never to give out personal information during online conversations. No matter if they are texting grandpa, their aunty, their friends from school, etc.
Information such as their full name, how old they are, address, where they go to school, where you (their parents) work, the playground they visit often, social security number, your credit card details, etc., should NEVER be given to people over the internet. Predators can use these images against them.
This information can be used as part of the grooming process.
3. Restrict Some Websites
Agree with your children what websites they can and cannot visit, and how long they can be on those sites. Depending on the age of your child adjust the limits on their search engines, computers and phones. Social Media like Facebook and Twitter do not allow new users younger than 13 to join, so if you’re not comfortable with your younger children signing up for them, be firm!
4. Privacy Settings on Social Media
If your children already have social media accounts, re-evaluate their online profiles and remove sensitive or personal information. It is not necessary for young children to use pictures of themselves as profile photos, we recommend that they post something impersonal such as a pet.
Teach them not to post images of themselves at the beach or sleepovers as these can be suggestive.
Adjust the privacy settings for the apps they use and explain that whatever they post will be on the internet forever and could be used by groomers to blackmail them.
5. Parental Controls
Some parental controls allow you to restrict access to specific websites and to view their searches and web history. You can also sign in into their phone such that they will not be able to downloads apps without your pin (which should be kept secret from them). Monitor your kids, the sites they’re visiting, and items they’re viewing at all times so you can be sure they are not doing anything inappropriate.
6. Stay up to date on their lingo
Stay up to date on the type of language young people use. Their groomer may be teaching them code words they can use to slip things by you so that you don’t catch on even if you see the chat or witness a phone conversation.
7. Stay up to date on the apps your kids use and how they work
Know what apps your kids use so that kids do not find their way around the control measures you put in place.
Parenting experts tell us that we cannot be smarter than our children at technology because we grew up with technology being just a minor part of our life, while their whole lives are founded on technology. Its as natural to them as butter on toast.
8. Meeting Online Friends Offline
Tell your child never to meet people he or she met online alone. If they must meet with someone they met online, they must go with a trusted adult/parent.
They should never invite an online friend to your house! It is always advisable that you all meet in a public place such as the mall.
9. Be An Active Parent And Friend Of Your Child
Be involved in your children’s lives. Sexual predators fear being exposed more than anything, so when they see that the parent of their potential victim is involved in their child’s life or that the child is likely to tell his parents, they back off and move to the next victim.
10. Teach kids to Speak Up
let your children know that if they are uncomfortable with something, their online friends asking for absurd images, strangers trying to be their friends or an inappropriate picture they’ve seen, etc., they should let you know as soon as possible.
Make a habit of reporting any improper conduct to the appropriate authorities, such as the police, near you. This way, they learn to involve the authorities when someone does them wrong.
Protecting the innocence of children is a joint responsibility. Every parent should play a role in it. Because doing otherwise can lead to lifelong psychological problems for the kids.