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Internet Safety For Our Kids

teenagers studying togetherThe internet has opened millions and millions of doors to learning and has made real-time communication with people on the other side of the planet as easy as hitting the ‘send’ button. With the click of the mouse we can instantly find the answer to any question we could think to ask, research any topic, get directions to anyplace to which we might possibly want to go, and the word “google” has become a household term widely used as a verb, meaning to “look something up on the internet.”

With summer here, kids out of school, vacations being planned, and all that information at our fingertips (and more and more right in the palm of our hands), the internet is a pretty busy place.

Unfortunately, it’s also a dangerous place at times. No longer do we need to just worry about someone who likes to sit and watch the kids at the bus stop, who’s at the playground every day but never has any kids there, or that car that nobody recognizes that keeps circling the schoolyard. We need to worry about our children each time they hit the power button on their computer. According to the Child Rescue Network, the FBI states that there are more than 50,000 (yes, that’s fifty thousand) predators online at any given moment.

There’s also some pretty scary statistics provided by the Dept. of Justice:

  • 1 in 7 kids, 10 to 17 years old, were sexually solicited online
  • 70% of these solicitations happen on a home computer with the remaining most often happening at a friend’s home
  • 49% of the children surveyed did not tell anyone about being solicited (the main reason given for not telling… “I was afraid they would take my computer away.”)

The Child Rescue Network compares allowing our kids to access the internet unsupervised, to letting them roam around a city of 2 billion people unsupervised. Heck, most of us won’t let our kids wait for the bus without a parent there to keep an eye on them, let alone roam around that many strangers without us there to protect them. Yet we do it every time we allow them to access the internet unsupervised.

So what can we do to keep them safe? Here are a few suggestions from the Child Rescue Network…

  1. Do not allow your child to have a computer with Internet access in their bedroom or any area that is private. Move it into the family room or someplace where you can easily see the activity.
  2. Make sure that your child understands that anything put out there online is there forever and cannot be removed. A suggestive picture to a boyfriend could end up anywhere and everywhere. All pictures should be cleared by you before posting.
  3. Teach your kids to never open emails from people they do not know in person.
  4. Set time restraints. Do not allow your child to spend hour after hour online.

The full listing of suggested tips to keep your kids safe can be found at http://childrescuenetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Internet-Safety-Tips-Download and is well worth the couple of minutes it will take to read. Their website also includes a link for the document in Spanish, at http://childrescuenetwork.org/keeping-children-safe/internet-safety.

There are so many benefits to having access to the world at our fingertips that it’s easy to forget that the internet can be a dangerous place. And with the kids out of school it’s tempting to allow the computer to become an electronic babysitter. But it can be a dangerous place, and we owe it to our kids to keep them safe and teach them how to keep themselves safe when online. After all, we teach them to look both ways before crossing the street and to not talk to strangers, don’t we?

Written by: Tricia Doane, FizzNiche Staff Writer

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Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing Child Rescue Network’s Internet Safety information. Raising awareness is so critical to changing things. both in the real world and the virtual one.

    The reality is that 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually victimized by the time they are 18. 93% will be abused by someone they know and often trust…. just one of the reasons “Stranger Danger” has got to go! Protecting kids is about empowering them with the knowledge and skill sets needed to make the best decisions… whether they are dealing with a stranger or a familiar face. Empowerment, not fear!

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