Technology can be an important part of kids’ lives and education. There are so many advantages of kids using technology. Unfortunately with that technology, some drawbacks are also comes its own set of issues. One of the disadvantages of kids using the internet is online predators and cyber bullies. They are both threats that our kids face and it’s important that we are monitoring their internet to make sure that they aren’t being taken advantage of or pushed around online.
Online predators and cyber bullies aren’t just people that your children and teens know, they can be random people. Unfortunately for kids the internet is filled with mean people. Just check the comments on You Tube Videos or sites like Huffington Post and you can see these internet trolls. Noone is immune to bullies, stalkers or predators, so it’s your job as a parent to be vigilant.
Here are some characteristics of online predators you and your kids should look out for:
1. Someone is being overly friendly online and asking you for your name and/or age. This isn’t really that uncommon for someone to ask your name when you are chatting, however, If they are asking more and more personal information from you, you should beware. Have your kids and teens avoided these people and if you are corresponding with them never give your real name, age or location.
2. They are agreeing with you on everything. An online predator will often to pretend to have a lot of things in common with you. This is their way of connecting and building trust. If you are saying that you like x, y, z and that person insists they like those things as well, you should be leery. Of course if you are on a forum for knitting and you both like making scarves, that’s not a red flag. Just be wary if this person seems too good to be true.
3. Is this person trying to meet you in person? If an online relationship is on the up and up, there is no need to meet in person. If you find that person pressuring you to meet, then they may be a predator.
4. If someone contacts you or your teen out of the blue, it should be a huge red flag. I’m not the only person to get a random Facebook message or chat request from a stranger. I always ignore them. If I don’t know the person or if it’s not a known friend of a friend, there is no reason I should be talking with them.
There really is no rhyme or reason to spotting a predator. Teaching your kids warning signs and heeding those warnings yourself can keep your family protected. Using common sense and avoiding giving out your personal information can help keep you safe. If you want to make sure that you and your kids stay safe online, teach them to avoid people they don’t know online completely. Do you have any other tips to spot predators online? Please share them!