Wednesday, April 4, 2012
I'm a little fired up this morning, which led to the writing of this post, and I'll tell you why. How many of you watch Dateline's To Catch a Predator series? If you haven't seen it and you have children, then catch the video entitled, "A Reality Check for Parents," located here - Dateline - A Reality Check for Parents
In an anonymous survey, Dateline asked teens between the ages of 14 and 18, questions about their online activity, and the results may terrify you. When asked about whether or not they have talked to a stranger online, only four percent of teens said that they did not chat with someone they did not know. That means that the majority of teens are putting themselves in extreme danger, regardless of the endless hours of lecturing that they are getting from us parents.
Fifty eight percent of teens said a stranger had asked to meet with them. At every minute of every day, predators are searching for a way into our children's lives, and chances are, our children have run across a predator at one time or another.
Another twenty-nine percent of teens had a scary experience online. I don't even like to think about the different things that have happened to children that have upset and terrified them. We can only imagine, because our children don't always tell us about their experiences, for reasons only known to them.
Almost half of the children surveyed, also admitted that they share too much of their personal information. The most important rule of Internet Safety is being broken by our teens! What can we do about that? We'll get back to that in a second.
The majority of teens say that they use the computer responsibly, while a high percentage observe other teens being irresponsible online. Ninety percent of those teens who think that they are being responsible online, have no idea what it really means to be responsible, or they wouldn't be chatting with strangers, which ninety six percent of them admitted to doing.
What can we do about this? Well, we all know that teens have admitted to doing things online that their parents wouldn't approve of, so one of the first things we can do is make sure that their bedroom door is open while they are online. If they complain, you can always take the door of the hinges.
If you haven't seen their online profiles lately, go and check them out. Make sure the photos are appropriate, and they are keeping certain information private. Do you know who is on their "friends" list? If not, ask them. If you see something on their online profiles that you don't like, ask them to change it. Don't worry about upsetting your children, we love them and that is why we do what we have to do.
I can't say this enough, and I will never stop saying this, you MUST talk with your children about Internet Safety. I don't care if they are tired of hearing the warnings, or if they roll their eyes at you for the ump-teenth time, you have to let them know that there are sexual predators out there, looking for their prey.
It is NEVER okay to meet someone that they have met online. There are just too many risks involved. Let them watch Dateline's To Catch a Predator series, so that they can see this for themselves. These predators have a single purpose, and that is to sexually assault your child, or worse. Don't let them be another statistic.
Please remember that simply talking with your child is the most effective way you have of keeping them safe. Listen and be understanding when they talk, so that they feel comfortable in talking about things that may be uncomfortable for them.
I'll talk to you again soon. Keep those kids safe!