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How to Protect Your Children from Online Predators

There are a number of steps you can take to protect your kids from online predators. Here are some of them:

  • Talk to your kids about sexual predators and explain about potential online dangers. Explain about the grooming process and warn them about some of the tactics an online predator may use.

  • Install parental control software. Surfie can identify and block harmful content in chats, forums and other internet communication tools (or just alert you about them, if you so choose). Don’t forget to inform your children that you have done this. Explain to them that that you are not spying on them - you are keeping them safe!!

  • Place the computer in a family room or somewhere visible (not in your child’s bedroom). But remember that your children have other means of accessing the Internet and communicating with potential predators. Pay attention to other computer and Internet-enabled mobile devices.

  • Most social networking sites require that users be age 13 and over. Make sure your kids follow these age restrictions.

  • Limit and monitor the amount of time your children spend on the Internet, and at what times of day. Too much time online, especially at night, may be a sign of a problem. Surfie can help you do this too! Click here to learn how.

  • Make sure you follow these rules of thumb for chat rooms:

  • Young children should not be allowed to use chat rooms at all.

  • Older kids should be directed to monitored kids' chat rooms.

  • Get to know the chat rooms your kids do visit and with whom they talk. Check to see the kind of conversations that take place. Chat rooms featuring subjects that attract children and teenagers, such as music, sports, or fashion, are prime targets of child sexual predators, who often disguise themselves as peers.

  • Instruct your kids to never leave the chat room's public area and engage in a one-on-one chat in a private area. These areas are unmonitored.

  • Younger kids should share a family e-mail address rather than have their own e-mail accounts.

  • Tell your children to never respond to instant messaging or e-mails from strangers. If your children use computers in places outside your supervision-public library, school, or friends' homes-find out what computer safeguards are used.

  • Post the family online agreement or contract near the computer, to remind your kids about the basic safety rules.

A few tips for your kids:

There are a number of preventive measures your can instruct your kids to take, including:

  • Never download images from an unknown source, or upload sexually suggestive images of yourself to the internet

  • Tell an adult you trust (parent, teacher, etc.) immediately if anything that happens online makes you feel uncomfortable or frightened.

  • Choose a gender-neutral screen name. Make sure the name you choose does not contain sexually suggestive words or reveal personal information. Avoid screen names that have words like girl, boy, princess, prince, Barbie, flower, or numbers that may indicate age, zip code or area code. Also avoid screen names that have school mascot or logos in it.

  • Never reveal personal informationabout yourself (including age and gender) or about the family to anyone online. Do not fill out online personal profiles.

  • Stop any e-mail communication, instant messaging conversations, or chats if anyone starts to ask questions that are too personal or sexually suggestive.

  • Never agree to meet someone in person that you’ve met on-line.

  • Remember that what you are told on-line may or may not be true.

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