I recently attended a presentation at my daughter's school with an FBI agent who talked about some scary topics that we as parents don't want to discuss. It amazed me how many parents in the room were SO CLUELESS when it came to these topics - I heard one say she was only worried about the Snapchat app...that is the least of our problems as parents. Your first thought in reading some of this will be "NOT MY CHILD" - but as a parent you need to EDUCATE yourself AND your children on the world wide web and what is actually out there.
And don't ever say "Not my Child" because you never know when or if it will be.
I took many notes during the meeting - I include them for you here, but I also added a few of my own too
I have watched many episodes of To Catch a Predator...and what did I learn? They come in ALL sizes, shapes, ages, and more. The fact is they are out there usually pretending to be a young teen themselves and they are good at MANIPULATING - and they learn to use this tool from behind a computer screen.
They are usually not Pedophiles. Pedophiles target pre-pubescent children, while online predators typically target adolescents who engage in risky online behavior.
Can I suggest to watch the movie TRUST - watch it first by yourself, then decide if your kids are old enough to handle the information (it is rated R) but it is a VERY REALISTIC movie depicting a online predator, his victim, and her family.
VICTIMSAccording to Netsmartz.org (the same presentation I watched in the meeting), victims are usually age 13-15 and mostly girls...but 25% are boys. If they encounter an online predator once, it will most likely happen again because they are vulnerable.
Many assume that children at risk are neglected or from dysfunctional homes. However, ALL children, even those from supportive families may be at risk.
SIGNSVery secretive...When you walk in, and the computer screen gets minimized...Instant messaging hours a day...Receiving calls from unknown or blocked numbers...Gets highly agitated if cannot get online...If it seems odd, it is worth investigating a little!
HOW TO AVOID/BE PRO-ACTIVE
- BE A SNOOP! I had a friend that I told to check his son's text messages. He told me that was his son's personal business and his son was only 14...so he wasn't worried. A few months later, he mentioned his son was punished - He finally read his text messages.
- DOWNLOAD AN APP -use technology to your benefit and download an app on your child's phone to watch/monitor what they are doing
- TALK - TALK - TALK. Have open communication with your kids about technology. And what they need to look for and how to not get backed into a bad situation.
- BE FRIENDS. Be your child's friend on Facebook - Snapchat - Twitter - whatever. If they don't give you the password to their accounts, then they lose their phone/computer.
I already know what a few of you are thinking:
- "We keep our computer in the family area where they can't get away with anything." BUT Iphones and Ipods allow the internet to be accessible in their hands. My daughter has a school provided laptop to do homework - and I can promise you - whenever I ask, she is always doing homework...um no.
- "I have parental controls on our computer to block certain websites." Predators don't just hangout on porn sites...and these kids today know technology WAY better than we do - and can easily hack through these things if they want to (just look at how easy it is for your toddler to use your Iphone - it comes natural to them).
- "My kids are too young - this doesn't apply to me." If they are on the internet, they are NOT too young. Just use age appropriate talks - NetSmartz.org offers lots of resources to help! If they are not on the Internet yet, one day they will be so make sure you are educated and ready to protect them.
WHAT TO PUT ONLINE?Make sure your facebook page is not public (and your kids if they have one)
Talk to them about putting personal info on it - a pic in their uniform just gave someone a LOT of information.
Pictures taken on your iPhone have data that states the location - so your picture posted in Hawaii just told someone that you are not home right now. You can turn this feature off: Settings - Privacy - Location Services - Camera "Off" (mine was turned on before I wrote this!)
Here is an article about how FAST photos can travel on the Internet and also what someone can learn about you - all from facebook!
I don't get it...but teens (and pre-teens) are doing it...Girls think nothing of sending a nude-ish photo of themselves. WHY? To get a guy. To keep a guy. Or Just because they can.
And what does he do? SHOW HIS FRIENDS of course!
I remember watching a Dr. Phil episode where they asked 8-10 girls if they had sent photos and they all raised their hand. He then asked how many of the boys shared the photos with others - they ALL raised their hand.
They don't understand that those photos can resurface ANYWHERE on the internet - ANYTIME in their LIFETIME! They have no control after they hit the send button.
INTERESTING FACT I LEARNED: Having a picture of an underage person is child pornography. Sending it to someone else online= internet trafficking. EVEN if your child is only 15 years old, your child can still be charged if he/she has underage pictures in their possession.
EACH picture = 5 years in prison
A Video is broken down by frame so a 5 minute video = 60 years in prison
Scary enough to talk to your kids about how to handle this IF it comes up??? I think so!
This is something new to us as parents...There was always a "bully" at school, but this is SO much bigger than that. This is kids taking their bullying to social media and destroying another child. They can photoshop pictures...they can send mean texts...they can create fake profiles using your child's identity and information...they can post a fight video to humiliate them...It snowballs quickly and should be taken very seriously - and not by mom sending an email saying "this is Suzie's mother and you better stop right now" - Take it to the school - take it to the police - stop it before it's too late.
So as I sat down to write this, a local TV station tweeted this article:
If this doesn't hit close to home, this young boy took his life because of the pressures and stresses he received from bullying. A quote from the article (from the boy's mother) is the perfect ending to this post...
"One word that's inappropriate can crush somebody's soul," said Maureen Strong.
All opinions listed above are mine. I used my own opinions, NetSmartz and the information obtained from the FBI agent's presentation as resources for data/statistics above. I am not an expert on any of the topics mentioned above - I do not guarantee that my information listed above is totally accurate - it is simply to help get parents thinking on the topics mentioned.
My blog TIFF'S DEALS is to post about deals and discounts to help save money. I wrote this article simply because I felt passionate about this topic. Please consider sharing this information with other parents - and remember it can NEVER be too early to start educating your children!