How to Keep Your Child Safe Online

How to Keep Your Child Safe Online

04/11/2017 0 By Anthony Ekanem

As children get older, they will want to know more. With the internet, this is easier than parents think.  All it takes is a few keystrokes and they have come to the website of their choice. Being online exposes children to a new way of exploring things. Even though a child may land on a child-friendly website, some of them do have chat rooms.  Who says they would not try to access one of them?  If they get lonely, they can look for new friends online. These are people they have never met before. Down the road, they start to feel comfortable talking to them.

Then once they get to know them, they seek out people who have the same interests as they. Little do some of these children know that they may be setting themselves up for trouble if they are not careful.  The person on the other end seems to be interested in having a “friendship” as well.  This “friendship” gets so intense that the child starts pouring out their heart to them. They start to divulge their innermost thoughts and problems.  They think that the person on the other end will be willing to help them. What the person is really doing is trying to get a hook to take advantage of them.  The child is then lured with promises of attention, giving and loving. Then, once they think the child feels comfortable with them, they start to introduce them to content of a sexual nature.  Being that most children are curious by nature, they seek to find out more.

So the person starts sending them sexually provocative images and talks to them in a sexually explicit manner.  In essence, they’re being brainwashed to renounce their normal life as a child and start to grow up faster than they need to.  When the perpetrator feels that they want to move the relationship to another level, they’ll trick the child into meeting them in person.  Once that happens, the child is lured into staying with this person for an unspecified period of time.  After that, the parents become hard pressed to get their child back. The age of the sex offender isn’t always an older person.  Sometimes, the perpetrator can be a few years older than the child.  No matter how old they are, if they can succeed in luring the child away from their home, then the parents have a problem. Some of the perpetrators may not necessarily be child molesters per se, but they may still pose a danger to the child they are trying to lure.

Warning Signs

How do you know if your child is in danger of encountering a perpetrator?  Here are some signs you should look out for:

  • If your child starts to detach from the rest of the family.  They don’t eat at the dinner table or accompany the family on outings. They become detached from school and other activities they used to enjoy.
  • The child doesn’t talk to their family as much as they used to. When a sex offender or perpetrator tries to lure them away, they’ll plant false images in the child’s mind.  The child in turn, creates a separation between themselves and their families.
  • Your child is suddenly getting gifts from someone you’ve never met or heard of.  This is another way the offender tries to separate the child from their family.  The offender will send things that the child likes in order to get their attention.
  • The offender will make it seem like they are the only ones that like the child and are looking out for their best interests.  Some offenders will go as far as sending them a plane ticket to meet them.
  • If you happen to come in the room and your child abruptly changes to another website or screen, there’s a chance they may be looking at something that they’re not supposed to look at. If they’re looking at sexually charged content, they do not want you to see it.  They don’t want to suffer the consequences.
  • In order to divert attention from their online account, your child will use someone else’s account to access sexually charged content or connect with the sex offender.  They’ll either go to the library or a friend’s place to do this.
  • Phone calls for your child will increase and they won’t be from their friends, either. It will be from people that parents have never heard of or met.  Or, they can be long distance phone numbers that parents don’t know about.
  • Some perpetrators talk with the children to get them sexually aroused. This way, they can get them in the mood to set up a date for a real sexual encounter.
  • If parents find that their child spends a lot of time on the internet, this may be a problem. It could definitely surface as a problem if the child is online during the late hours when they should be sleeping. They’ll also stay online during the weekends.  They’ll spend a lot of time in the chat rooms.  If they are home alone after school, this is a perfect set up for the perpetrator. They will either have the child call them back or they’ll get the child’s phone number from the child themselves.
  • In order to get their young victims to open up, sex offenders may send the child pornographic images.  They try to instill in the child that those sexual relations between children and adults is natural. Parents should be cognizant of what is on the computer.  A child may also copy the sexually explicit pictures on a disk to put away.

If parents have a suspicion that their child is headed for danger, there are some things they can do before it gets worse:

  • Parents will eventually want to confront the child about their concerns.  Let the child know that they care and that if the concerns are true, find a way to turn the situation around.
  • Parents should check what websites their child has had access to.  If the parent finds any kind of sexually explicit information, this should be a cause for concern. 

Parental Monitoring

Parents should not stop monitoring their child’s website access after the initial findings. They should continue to monitor access on an ongoing basis. This would include any type of communications such as instant messaging and chat rooms. Chat rooms have been the main source of where a child gets mixed up with a sexual predator.  Parents should also keep a close eye on e-mail correspondence that your child gets. There can be e-mail messages that will hold a clue to what’s going on with them. Most parents have Caller ID with their phone system.  Using Caller ID will let parents know who is calling them. If you suspect a sex offender calling your child, you can have the phone number blocked by your phone company. This can help to fight off the unwanted advances of a predator.

Parents should notify their law enforcement authorities. Some of them have special units that work specifically with these kinds of cases. Even with this, parents should still continue to watch their child’s website activity. When you do contact law enforcement, parents should make sure that the evidence is stored on the computer. They will want to see this to prove the parents’ claim.  Parents should also keep the computer turned off until further notice. They should not make copies of any of the evidence on the computer. Law enforcement will probably want to take the computer and examine it themselves.

In addition to doing the above to protect your child, you should also invest in child internet protection software.  It can help filter and block any sites that you don’t want your child to see. There are certain types that can pick up everything that the child does on the internet, including surfing websites and participating in chat rooms.  Parents can also record and make a copy of their child’s chat room conversations. There is too much going on, on the internet for a parent not to want to take precautions and check their child’s activities online. Parents may feel guilty at first, but after they get involved, they start to feel better and more secure about what’s going on.  Parents want their child to be safe. The last thing they want to hear about is that their child is involved in something illegal or immoral.

Parental control software has helped many parents save their children from potential dangers and catastrophes. There have been reports of parents finding out that their child was involved in drugs or stealing. Or that their child claimed to have a boyfriend or girlfriend online.  Parents finding this out early on get a chance to intervene and prevent further trouble for their child. There have also been reports that children have engaged in sexual relationships with adults two and three times older than they.  Using the parental control software has been very helpful for many parents.  This is why so many parents are now getting on the bandwagon and taking care of business with their child. The parents know that it’s their responsibility to keep their child safe.  If it means snooping and spying on them, so be it.  The child may be annoyed at first, but after a while, they’ll be grateful.

You can help to make the internet a safe place for your child. Taking action today is better than waiting until tomorrow. The longer you wait, the better chance your child has of connecting with those online predators. That’s not something any parent would want to endure. With the number of children setting themselves up with these strangers on the rise, there’s no doubt that the need for parental intervention is greater than ever.

Cyber stalking and cyber abuse by online strangers is no joke.  It’s no longer surprising to find out that many young children are succumbing to what is turning into a global epidemic.  More children, especially girls, are now more than ever before getting bolder and taking a chance because they are curious and don’t want to wait to grow up. Of course, some of them don’t inform their parents because they know the threat of being grounded is real. So is the threat of being snatched away by someone they don’t know.  That fact is also very scary for a lot of parents. It’s not something they’d want to think about happening to their child. The reason most predators choose the online route is that it is easy and no one will see them in person unless it’s the child they trying to prey on.

Also, the internet is just an easy medium for people to correspond, even if they’ve never met before. Once the predator has built enough trust in the child, then they decide to take action. If you don’t pay attention to this, your child could be in a whirlwind of unknown and dangerous territory before you can blink your eyes.  These online strangers are smarter than you think and they always try to stay one step ahead of everyone else. With parents having all the knowledge and resources about prevention, it’s never too late to intervene in their child’s online life.  In fact, the sooner they start the better chance they have of saving their child from destruction and a downhill spiral.  Consistent intervention from you is the key to keeping your child and your family out of harm’s way.