Are you the parent of a teenager? If so, there is a good chance that you are wondering about their safety online, as you should be. Although the internet has changed for the better, that change has made it easier for people to access the internet and pretend to be someone that they are not, someone who you would likely not want socializing with your child. For that reason, you are advised to take the proper action needed to protect your child when they are online, especially when they use online social networking websites.
Online social networking websites? What are they? If you are not an internet user yourself, you may be completely unaware of social networking websites, what they are, and how they operate. The first step in protecting your teen is to familiarize yourself with them. Social networking websites are known as online communities that aim to connect internet users with each other. Unfortunately, these social networks have become the stomping grounds for many online predators and who are they after? Teenagers and chances are your teens may be one of them.
When it comes to protecting your child, your first thought may be to prohibit the use of online networking websites. Of course, you can do this if you want to. You are the parent, you can do anything that you want; however, there is really no need to. Despite the fact that danger exists, social networking sites are relatively safe, even for teenagers. However, to be safe and stay safe, your teenager needs to know what to avoid and who to be on the lookout for. Essentially, this means that they best way to protect your child from online predators is to educate them on the danger that is out there.
One of the first things that you may want to discuss with your child is who they are talking with online. Although they may not want to give you an answer, you need to emphasize the importance of knowing who they are talking to. Since social networks work to connect individuals who do not physically know each other it may seem impossible, but it can be done. Your child should fully read and try to understand the content of their friend’s online profiles. This will enable them to watch out for inconsistent stories or any inaccurate information. Tell your teen that if they learn that someone is being untruthful they need to end the conversation right away.
We heard and witnessed a lot of stories that these predators are luring innocent, naive and helpless kids. If that happens, it might be too late to take an act of prevention. Most of their victims ended up being raped and/or murdered like the story below:
In addition to who your teen is talking to, it is also important to learn what they are talking about. As with who they are talking to, your teenager may not want to give you a straight answer. Even if you are unable to answer out of them it is important to let them know what is appropriate and what is not. Be sure they know that it is best to completely avoid individuals who like to speak of sex, drugs, and other illegal activities. Although they may enjoy having a number of online friends, there are plenty of other individuals, especially teenagers, who would more than willing to have pleasant and harmless conversations with them.
Perhaps, the most important thing to discuss with your teenager about social networking sites is arranging physical meetings. Let them know that these meetings are unacceptable. There have been numerous reports, over the past few years, of teenagers being lured away from their home in hopes of meeting a new friend, who they thought was their age. Unfortunately, many of these online friends turn out to be older and, in many cases, sexual predators. In the event that your teenager wants to meet an online friend and you feel that they would with or without your permission, you may want to offer to go with them. Of course, it is advised that you use caution and all meet in a public place.
By keeping the above-mentioned points in mind, your child should still be able to use social networking sites but use them safely. In addition to the above-mentioned safety concerns and precautionary measures, you may have your own. Whether you do or not, it is important that you keep your child aware of the dangers that lurk online, awareness is the key.