Online Safety: Protecting your kids from Internet and Social Media Threats

Today’s youth face a whole host of threats that previous generations never had to face; one of those threats is the internet. While the Internet has done a lot of good in some areas, it’s also created a nightmare scenario for parents, by giving the sickos of the world easy access to their children.

If you have children, you need to understand the threats that are out there and then take the necessary steps to protect them from these very real 21st century problems.

Social Media, your child’s phone, and the apps you let them download are putting them at Risk.

Internet enabled phones

I don’t understand why any parent would allow their kids to use social media sites and apps like Facebook, KiK, Snapchat, and Instagram – especially Snapchat, since the app was specifically designed by its creators as a “safe” sexting app for teens and young adults. By allowing them to use a service like Snapchat, you are basically giving them license to do things they shouldn’t be doing – why else would they need an app that supposedly makes images disappear after the user receives and views it.

Nothing good can come from giving your kid access to this world. In fact, these sites and apps are the top stalking grounds for internet predators.

According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, in 82% of online sex crimes that targeted minors, the predator used the victim’s social media profile to gain information about the victim’s likes and dislike. Because of the huge amount of information these kids share, predators are now able to use this material to not only profile their victims, but groom them by using that information against them.

  • 65% of online sex offenders used the victim’s social networking profile to get home and school information about the victim.
  • 26% of online sex offenders used the victim’s social networking activity to gain information about the victim’s whereabouts at a specific time.
  • Disgusting apps like Creepy allow predators to track your kids every more; all they need is your child’s Facebook or Twitter ID and they can instantly pull geotag location data from the latest photo that your child posted on their social media account. As a parent, this alone should scare the hell out of you, and hopefully convince you that there is no good reason for your child to have a social media account. For more information on this threat, read our article on how your online photos are putting you at risk.

You kids are incredibly exposed online, and the push towards devices that are always on and always connected is making them more vulnerable than ever.

  • 42% of kids admit they have seen online porn. The average age when they first view online pornography is 11 years old.
  • 93% of boys and 62% of girls report seeing pornography before the age of 18.
  • Six out of 10 teenagers say they have been asked for sexual images or videos; 53% say they have received sexual images or videos from someone online.
  • 40% admitted they had created a sexual image or video, and about a quarter said they had sent one to someone else by text.

So what can you do as a parent to protect your children from these threatS?

It’s Never too Early to Start Teaching them About Internet Threats:

When it comes to all things preparedness related, it’s never too early to start preparing children to deal with the potential threats that they may face. When it comes to the internet, the key to keeping your child safe is discussing online safety at an early age.

The moment you let them online, even if it’s with strict parental supervision, you need to start teaching them about online safety and why it’s important. Not only will it help them later on in life, but it gives you the opportunity to tie it into other preparedness related talks that you have been having with them. It’s important that they realize the internet has some very real-life consequences; far too many kids grow up with the idea that what they do online has no effect in the real world.

Things to Discuss:

  • Talk about how certain things are there to protect them, such as passwords, parental controls, and internet security and anti-virus software.
  • Make sure they know that the things they do online have consequences in the real world.
  • Let them know that bad guys do exist, and that just like the real world they need to be wary of strangers.
  • Tell them that they have no idea of who the other person is online, and that they should never give out personal information or start a conversation with someone online.

Never allow them to Use the Internet on their Own.

While this might sound a little overbearing to some liberal parents, the reality of the internet is it’s not a safe place for kids. Would you drop your kids of in the Red Light district, or allow them to hang out with a bunch of shady adults on the street corner? Of course not, but by allowing them unsupervised access to the internet you are basically doing just that.

What happens on the internet has some very real world consequences. Between seeing things that most adults would consider inappropriate, to being targeted by online predators, the internet is not a place that kids should be just wondering around in, alone and unsupervised.

  • All computers that your children are allowed to access should be in an open room where someone can see what they are doing at all times. 79% of unwanted exposure to pornography happens right in the home.
  • If your child has an internet enabled phone, device, or tablet, internet access should be shutoff or highly restricted with parental controls.
  • Monitor everything! Don’t be one of the parents who “trust their children to make the right decision.” That is one of the stupidest things I hear parents say. It’s really not a matter of trust, it’s a matter of them being kids and not having the life experience to always make the right decisions.

They need to understand that once it’s online it can’t be undone.

This is a concept that should be drilled into children’s heads the moment they start using the internet.

The second you put something online, it’s out there for life. Even if you delete it, there’s a good chance that what you wrote or what you uploaded exists on a server somewhere — a server that could come back to haunt you later on in life.

You need to keep up with the times…

Person Texting

It’s your job to know what’s going on. All too often today’s parents are completely unaware of what threats are out there, and have little clue to what their children are really doing online. In fact, social media and texting has created an entirely new language that allows these kids to keep even more secrets from you, if you are unprepared for this crazy new world.

Here are 30 commonly used Texting/Social Media acronyms that you should be aware of: (sadly, there are thousands of the acronyms, so if you’re not sure what a text means look it up online.)

  1. 9 –Parent watching
  2. PIR — Parent In Room
  3. CD9 — Code 9 – it means parents are around
  4. 303— Mom
  5. 99 — Parent gone
  6. 143 — I love you
  7. BROKEN — hung over
  8. 420 — Marijuana
  9. CID — Acid (the drug)
  10. CU46 — See You For Sex
  11. 459 — I love you
  12. 53X — Sex
  13. ADR — Address
  14. ASL — Age/Sex/Location
  15. 1174 — the meeting place, meet at
  16. F2F — Face-to-Face
  17. GNOC — Get Naked On Cam
  18. IWSN — I Want Sex Now
  19. 8 — Oral sex
  20. PRON — Porn
  21. IPN — I’m posting naked
  22. LH6 — Let’s have sex
  23. WTTP — Want to trade pictures?
  24. DOC — Drug of choice
  25. TWD — Texting while driving
  26. GYPO — Get your pants off
  27. KPC –– Keeping parents clueless
  28. LMIRL or MIRL — Let’s Meet In Real Life
  29. 1174′ — Party meeting place
  30. RU/18 — Are You Over 18?
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