6 Steps You Can Take to Protect Your Child From Online Predators
The Internet is a wonderful learning tool for your child. It is like a trip to the library, allowing the child access to vast amounts of reading knowledge. Sites such as Wikipedia and DMOZ provide a doorway to learning, while the child can look at news and stories from all over the world.
Of course, there are many dangers online for a child. No doubt, the kid may come across online porn sites, or video sites with inappropriately violent or sexual content. There is a risk your child can come into contact with a sexual predator. Unfortunately, such is life online.
Concerned parents can take precautions to protect their child from online predators. This requires a little good planning and a lot of good parenting. But you can allow your child to enjoy the benefits of the internet without exposing them to its dark side.
1. Know the Subject
Get to know the internet itself. This way, you will know more about the dangerous parts without confusing these with its helpful aspects.
Once you know your way around your computer and the internet, you will be equipped to monitor your child’s activity.
2. Keep Your Computer in a Family Room
Do not allow your child to have a computer in the bedroom. This gives the child privacy for hours of unsupervised internet activity. If you limit their computer usage to the main part of the house, every other member of the family helps to monitor their activity.
Whenever you walk in the room, you can look over the child’s shoulder to see what is happening. The child will be less likely to become involved in iffy websites and iffy activity, because anyone can come into the room at any time. This is a good thing. Your child should do nothing on the internet that cannot be done in front of you.
3. Monitor The Child’s Search Engine Activity
Keep track of what your child is doing online. If you don’t take the time or effort to do this, you are leaving your child’s safety to good luck and the good faith of strangers. Here’s how you monitor their activity.
An internet toolbar is found at the top of your computer screen when you are online. Toolbars have word balloons which pop up when you roll over their icons with your cursor. Find the icon which says “history”. With this, you can search through the recent history of internet surfing. This allows you to see which sites your child has been visiting recently.
Using the search engine history, periodically monitor your child’s activity. This may take a few minutes, but you can find any inappropriate sites your child has visited.
4. Monitor The Child’s Email Activity
There are two ways to do this. Consider making certain your child uses only your email for their use. This way, you can see every message which your child sees. Any problem emails you can address your own way.
If your child wants his or her own email address, make certain you have your child’s address and passwords. You’ll be able to go in at any time and see what has come your child’s way. Keep an eye out for messages from people whom you do not know. Be certain to ask your child who this person is.
5. Maintain Parental Controls
A third way to monitor your child’s email activity is to place parental controls on the computer. This puts restrictions on the use of emails.
One, parental controls can be set to send all emails going to your child through your account first. This means you screen everything your child sees. Nothing that appears suspicious or inappropriate gets past you.
Two, you can limit emails according to several criteria. Those with offensive words can be blocked. Those which require personal information can be blocked, too, either information coming in or going out. Blocks also allow you to stop messages from certain addresses, or allow emails only from approved addresses.
6. Communicate With Your Child
Talk to your child about the internet experience. Make certain to ask what your child is doing online, just as you would ask the child about school life. Note any strange sounding websites that are mentioned. Pay special attention to any forums or message boards the child spends time on.
Use this to follow up on anything strange you have seen monitoring your child’s search engine or email activity. Ask you kid about any people they have met online on message boards, chats or forums. Make certain to get the full story. Most of the time, these will be peers who are wanting to talk about video games or movies. Sometimes, though, it will be an adult pretending to be a child. Follow up anything suspicious your child mentions about this person. Complain to forum editors if you suspect anything is amiss.
Finally, warn your children about the dangers of the internet. When you go to the mall, you might tell them not to talk to strangers, even seemingly friendly ones. The same goes for the internet. Tell your child to avoid strangers, especially those who suggest real world meetings or other offline activities. Tell the child this is often the behavior of sexual predator.