Tips to Protect Your Kids From Online Predators
Let’s face it. Most kids nowadays have smartphones at a younger age. A few years back, it wasn’t common to see a 16-year-old with a phone; now most 12-year-olds have smartphones, and many of them are subject to being targeted by online predators, sex offenders, and pedophiles.
Whether you gave your kids a phone to check on them when they go out with friends, call you after school activity, keep in touch when they go to summer camp, or you have simply fallen victim to peer pressure and got them a mobile phone because everybody in school has one.
Create A Safe Contact List:
Make sure to add close family members, school friends, and people that they are allowed to communicate with to their contact list. Tell your kids to exchange phone numbers in school and save each other’s numbers.
Do not Answer Unknown Numbers:
Tell your children not to accept calls from numbers that are unknown or not on their contact list. There are sick people out there who call kids hoping to open a conversation with them.
Confirm New Numbers With Voice Calls:
If your children receive a chat request via SMS, iMessage or WhatsApp from a new number claiming to be a friend from school or even someone they might know from summer camp, make sure to verify the number with a voice call.
Tell your kids to inform you whenever they receive a new request so that both of you can call the number and verify in person that it is truly a friend and not an adult impostor.
Do Not Chat With Adults or Older Kids:
Young kids and teenagers are vulnerable and mostly unaware of malicious intends. Talk to your children and educate them about the dangers of communicating with adults or even older kids. A grown-up has no reason whatsoever to chat with a 13-year-old.
Keep Pictures And Profile Photos Private:
Most predators would cross-check a number to make sure a younger person owns it before approaching them. On WhatsApp make sure to set the profile photo in the privacy tab to appear to contacts only. This way only friends in the address book can see the picture and not strangers.
Do Not Share Private Photos and Videos:
This is one of the most sensitive topics to tackle; we are all guilty of taking endless selfies, photos, and videos. But, this is a must-have conversation with your kids, and it is not an easy one.
You need to advise your kids not to share personal or sensitive photos and videos even with their closest friends and relatives. Most important to learn to say no if someone asks them to do so and understand that this is not acceptable.
Do Not Share Personal Information:
Make sure you talk to your kids about the risks of sharing confidential information about themselves, their home, family, and friends. They could be tipping off online predators, burglars and giving out valuable information and passwords.
Social Media Platforms and Online Predators:
Most social media platforms allow 13-year-olds to have personal accounts. If your kids have a social media account, then make sure that their profile and content reflects their age.
Once your kids are online, the risks of online predators become higher. They are now posting publicly and interacting with people outside their approved circle. They have additional platforms to use and most of the time they cannot validate the identity of the people interacting with them.
It is very easy for any predator to create a fake account with a fake picture to pretend to be someone else. Make sure to advise your kids to keep their accounts private and limited to their friends, and most important not to post anything without making sure it is appropriate and will not harm them in any way.