Privacy and Personal Information
Kids seek privacy at certain ages and parents need to decide how much to give their kids. Monitoring software and keylogging applications are available for parents who need this extra layer of security. Cell phone carriers ofter services such as disabling the send/receive function on photographs and settings that allow parents to shut the phone off during school hours or a certain time in the evening. SafetyNet recommends keeping computers in public areas of the home, not in bedrooms or behind closed doors. If you are an online “friend” of your child you are able to view all of your child’s activity, unless they arrange their privacy settings to block you from seeing posts, friends, photos, etc. Some kids may establish a second profile that you don’t know about. Video chatting sites such as Skype have privacy settings that need to be enacted. Remind your kids that their video chats can be recorded without them knowing it.
TIP: Familiarize yourself with the risks. Review settings on social networking sites with your child and understand how they work.
Posting Personal Information
Sharing personal information such as age, school, favorite activities, etc., provides opportunities for strangers to become friendly with and “groom” your children. Teach your children what to keep off of the Internet: their address, phone number, school name, schedules, birth dates, social security numbers and other information that could be used to locate them or steal their identities.
Remember that information and images put on the Internet can never be completed deleted or erased.
Protect your passwords
If someone knows your password, they can access your information, alter or share it. Teach your kids how to create strong and varied passwords and to protect them. Passwords used for social networks, instant message programs and email accounts should be shared with parents but not friends.
Teens make mistakes, they get talked into doing things they may not even want to do. Talk with your kids about the types of photos that are appropriate to take and post. Research indicates that between 8%-10% of teens under 18 may take a sexually explicit or nude photograph of themselves. Depending on the photograph, it may be considered child pornography which is illegal in the United States. Remind your kids that pictures online are forever and can never be fully retrieved or deleted. If you see child pornography on or offline or hear about people who are viewing or producing it, TAKE ACTION! Report your suspicions by contacting the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children or call your local police, call 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or click on this link: www.cybertipline.com
Relationships, Boundaries and Sex
Talking about relationships with your children is very important. Teaching kids about boundaries, appropriate conversations and sex becomes easier if you begin age-appropriate discussions early. The Good-Touch/Bad-Touch program is a great starting point. Books that teach kids about appropriate kinds of touch are another great way to get the conversation started.
“My Body is Private” by Linda Walvoord Girard
Evaluate adult/child one-on-one situations. Instruct your child to NEVER get together with someone without telling you, this includes family members, friends, neighbors, etc. Parents always need to know where their kids are and who they are with.
Has someone you know been victimized?
If you have any suspicions, trust your instincts. Tell someone! Don’t let your children -- or the children you know -- become victims. Contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, call your local police or call 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678) or report at www.cybertipline.com. Online dangers and activity that needs to be reported includes: anyone who sends a child photos or videos containing obscene content, anyone who speaks to a child in a sexual manner or anyone who asks a child to meet in person.
The Megan’s Law website shows where registered sexual offenders live.