This guy could be your child’s new online friend!
“Don’t talk to strangers.” How many times did we hear that when we were growing up? It’s a whole new world now, but this directive has never been more true than it is today. Not only do our kids have to be wary of strangers on the street, but we must also protect them from the thousands of ‘strangers’ online.
In the physical world, interactions are face-to-face and children have a pretty good idea as to whether or not a person is a ‘stranger’, however, this distinction becomes more ‘blurred’ in the online world. Our children are growing up in a world where people routinely consider people they have never met before to be their ‘friends’ and then proceed to provide them with a steady stream of information about their personal lives. And remember, it’s not just kids that are doing this, children see their parents take part in this risky behavior and determine that there is nothing to be concerned about.
Chat rooms for children are also becoming increasingly popular. What could possibly be dangerous about your child sitting in the comfort and safety of their own home, chatting with other kids their age, about topics they find interesting? Truthfully, there may be nothing wrong with this activity, once you’ve checked out the chat room and talked to your child about the dangers of online chatting and the guidelines and etiquette to be followed while participating in it. The reality though, is that chat rooms are a popular place for predators to hang out and pretend that they are ‘just like everyone else’, in an effort to befriend potential targets (and, believe me, they are very good at what they do). So, if you’re going to allow your child to chat online, at least prepare them with the information and skills they need to protect themselves.
For more information on how to keep your children safe in chat rooms, as well as how to protect them from the many other dangers lurking online, check out Internet Safety Academy at http://www.teachkidsinternetsafety.com.