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Children internet safety is becoming a greater and greater concern for parents as more kids go online for socializing and games. Unfortunately, where the children go, pedophiles will follow.
Detective Frank Griffitts from the Scottsdale Police Computer Crimes department, co-author of WTF: Why Teens Fail - What To Fix, gave some tips on how to handle the social media issues that creep up on us as parents of tech-savvy kids in a digital generation.
I broke down the interview into smaller segments so you can watch the snippets that interest you most about children internet safety.
You can scroll down for the shorter segments, or watch the full interview here (it lasts about 35 minutes and is definitely worth the watch)!
So just how important is parental involvement when it comes to children’s online activity? According to Detective Frank Griffitts of Scottsdale PD in Arizona, parental involvement is “paramount”.
And no software can replace you.
You can find excellent internet safety software and parental controls, but if you aren’t actively involved, that software won’t do much. Parents need to be at the computer with their child helping them learn to navigate safely through the digital jungle.
Cyber bullying is what happens when teens harass each other online. It happens through text, social media, chat rooms... it comes in so many forms but always has the intention to embarrass, humiliate and degrade the targeted teen. In cases of the "Cyber Bully", the predator is also a child.
The detective gives a good example of cyber bullying… and a simple way teens and tweens can avoid a common but painful form of harassment.
Griffitts says posing pedophiles are “rare… but not rare enough.” There are still too many teens being fooled by the fake Facebook profile.
Between the careless
teenagers who don't use privacy settings and the kids who let strangers into their circle of
“friends”, pedophiles have plenty of room to play. That's why we have to teach our children internet safety rules - like using your privacy settings wisely!
Detective Griffitts counsels parents to not only know their children’s usernames and passwords, but also to login as the child once in a while. Why? Simply because the predation often happens in more private settings – personal emails, instant messaging, private chat rooms, etc.
But isn’t that an invasion of their privacy? Well that raises other questions.
Just how much privacy should you give your kids? Who should your child’s privacy be protected from?
You are the parent. You “have not only a right, but a responsibility” to keep your kids safe.
Pedophiles like an easy target. And pictures are a good way to gauge just how “easy” any given child is going to be.
The detective shares tips on how to post pictures safely – and why this is so important!
Start a conversation about children internet safety the moment your kids begin to "click". Talk about online dangers with them and how to avoid those dangers.
Help them understand what they may face, what they should do if it happens, what rules you expect them to live by online, and decide together what the consequences will be if those rules are broken.
Keep that conversation alive. Have it frequently.
Then if they choose to disregard the rules, you already have a foundation in place to protect them from themselves and enforce safe practices online.
On the other hand, if they choose to follow the rules, your child is empowered to not only defend himself, but also to stop predation before it becomes a real issue.
Grooming typically happens in chat and other instant messaging forums.
That’s why Griffitts doesn’t care much for chat rooms.
Chat rooms are “pedophile playgrounds” and the dangers simply outweigh the benefits. As fun as they are, there are plenty of other forums where pedophiles aren’t as prevalent and have to work harder to get a victim.
But if your teen simply must be in the chat rooms, then help them remember that the rules in the "real" world also apply to the "virtual" world... no strangers!
If you suspect there’s a pedophile talking with your child, save the evidence! Evidence is key to getting a hold of a search warrant against the suspect.
Without that evidence, they can't show that there is “probable cause” and the police by law cannot investigate the predator.
Set your software to log chats automatically. Save the emails. Take screen-shots of the monitor (i.e. press the Control + Print Screen buttons at the same time to take a picture of the screen, then paste it onto your desktop or into a photo editing program) and save the picture so the police can see what happened for themselves.
You can also report a pedophile, or suspicious online behavior, through the Cyber Tipline at www.CyberTipline.org.
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