This nightmare situation is doubly serious in that the so-called grooming can take place with your child being safe in their home and even their bedroom. This new twist on the dangers faced by children makes it imperative that all parents are aware of the problem and take steps to provide a safe environment for their kids.
Cyber bullying is another recent phenomenon which too has brought great suffering to many young people and their parents. MySpace is a program available on line which enables people of any age to meet and chat via the Net. Are you, as a parent, aware of such programs as MySpace? Do you know if your child is active in this area? If you are aware, do you know who your child is in touch with?
Certainly the best policy in this case is to maintain a strong and healthy communication with your child. One clever strategy is to ask your child to help you understand the workings of MySpace or other online activities. Become interested and aware. Then, because of your close relationship with your child, find out who and what they are dealing with online.
The early teen years can be tricky as your child seeks privacy and independence but it is essential you have (a) an understanding of what is going on and (b) a knowledge of what can go wrong when a child is tricked into a potentially tragic relationship.
There are several steps you can take to protect your child from online trouble.
- Never allow your child to give out credit card details online.
- Never allow your child to post personal information online such as a phone number, home address, school location or photographs. Any such data should only appear with your prior approval.
- Control the time your child may spend online each day or week.
- Install one of the filters which prevent access to various sites.
- Find out which sites your child is accessing and discuss their online activities.
- Using your strong relationship with your child, explain the potential dangers. It’s in many ways another version of the Stranger Danger concept you explained to your child when they were quite young.
- Make sure your child tells you if they feel in any way upset or uncomfortable because of what has happened to them online.
- One problem faced by many parents is that they are far less used to using computers than their children. All the more reason why you as a parent should take a course at your local library on the basics of using the Net.
- There are places you can visit online which are aimed at helping parents live inside the digital world. Remember safety is paramount at all times and just because your child is seemingly safe in their room, they may in fact be in real danger.
Try the safekids.com site for more ideas and information.
Here are additional resources you might be interested in: