Is My Child A Target For Internet Predators

Is My Child A Target For Internet Predators

Thankfully, the​ answer is​ probably not. Most children use the​ internet to​ socialize with friends and​ pursue budding interests. They manage to​ steer clear of​ the​ dangerous predators lurking in​ chat rooms and​ other forums who slyly manipulate their way into electronic networks of​ school-age friends to​ find and​ groom the​ next vulnerable child for​ future exploitation. While most children are safe on​ the​ internet, as​ you​ read these 's every encounter with the​ internet, there is​ no way for​ a​ parent to​ be 100% sure their child has not been contacted by a​ predator. Parents need to​ know the​ characteristics of​ typical victims, the​ warning signs a​ predator has entered your child's life, and​ steps they can take to​ protect their children.

Characteristics of​ typical victims:

* Most but not all victims are between the​ age of​ 12 and​ 15 years old.

* Most victims have an​ instant message account most kids do but have not set up privacy or​ security settings to​ block strangers and, in​ fact, willingly engage in​ conversations with strangers.

* Most victims tend to​ live in​ suburban or​ rural towns.

* Most victims are very sheltered and​ naïve, although a​ few are at​ the​ opposite extreme and​ willing to​ take very serious risks.

* Most victims tend to​ be loners with few offline friends. They are often looking for​ love and​ affection online. Many children contacted by predators believe they are communicating with someone around their own age, and​ not with an​ adult.

* Most victims tend to​ spend more than 90 minutes of​ non-homework time a​ day online, and​ are secretive about their internet activities. When you​ walk by, the​ screen often goes blank or​ windows are minimized.

* Most victims tend to​ have few activities outside of​ the​ internet.
Just because your child matches one or​ more of​ these characteristics does not mean they are being targeted by predators, nor is​ your child perfectly safe if​ they match none of​ these characteristics. in​ all circumstances, a​ parent should be ever vigilant and​ involved in​ their children's on-line activities.

Warning signs your child is​ being contacted by a​ predator:

* Phone calls. Are strange calls showing up on​ your phone bills? Don't assume you​ can pick out adults calling your children - a​ 35 year old can sound very much like a​ 15 year old if​ they want to.

* Gifts and​ packages arriving at​ your house. Many predators groom their victims by sending small gifts. Some predators have been known to​ send disposable cameras or​ web cameras for​ children to​ take pictures of​ themselves with.

* Secrecy. Teens are often secretive, and​ often it​ is​ a​ symptom of​ nothing more than their carving out an​ independent life for​ themselves. However, if​ your child is​ taking secrecy to​ an​ extreme, or​ has suddenly become more secretive than before, it​ is​ cause for​ concern.

* Trust your gut. if​ something doesn't feel right, it​ probably isn't. Predators are masters of​ manipulation. Unexplained and​ sudden changes in​ your child's mood or​ behavior may be a​ sign they are being manipulated in​ ways they are not comfortable with but are reluctant to​ talk about.

Steps to​ protect your child:

* Teach your child to​ not communicate online with people they have not physically met offline. This absolutely means friends of​ friends. Predators often infiltrate a​ network of​ child friends by finding the​ one weak link and​ using that person's trust to​ gain contact with others. Under no circumstances should a​ child meet in​ person someone they only know online - in​ most cases where a​ child is​ exploited, the​ child is​ conned or​ coerced into willingly meeting the​ predator offline

* Go through your child's list of​ internet buddies and​ have them tell you​ the​ real name of​ each person on​ the​ list.

* Review you​ child's home page or​ online profile. Make sure there is​ no personally identifiable information there, including photos, school name, or​ team names. Many predators keep detailed files on​ their targets and​ gather information over time from a​ variety of​ sources. Even seemingly innocuous information may prove harmful when combined with comments made weeks or​ months later. "I play catcher on​ my baseball team", "I went to​ a​ Red Sox game!", and​ "Big game against Bedford tomorrow - I hope we crush them!" can tell a​ predator their target probably lives in​ the​ Boston area and​ is​ playing baseball somewhere in​ Bedford the​ following afternoon. a​ quick Google search will show the​ public schools in​ Bedford and​ which ones have baseball games scheduled.

* if​ your child has been approached or​ harassed online, have them immediately delete their old account, pick a​ new username and​ start another. Do not let the​ harassment continue.

* Absolutely prohibit web-cams. Easy-to-use $20 Webcams instantly transmit high-quality continuous color video across the​ globe and​ are used by predators to​ exploit children.

* Most importantly, install keylogger or​ monitoring software on​ the​ computer used by your child one vendor of​ such software is​ PCSentinel Software - . There is​ no other way to​ be totally certain of​ what your child is​ doing online or​ who they are communicating with - and​ there is​ no other way of​ keeping 100% accurate records of​ what was said in​ the​ event your child is​ contacted by a​ predator. Even though it​ may feel like "spying" on​ your child, a​ parent has a​ responsibility to​ know with certainty who is​ in​ their child's life and​ keylogger software provides that certainty.

Is My Child A Target For Internet Predators

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