Kids are using the internet now more than ever.
To ensure kids stay safe when they go online for schoolwork and for socialization, caregivers should stay involved in their children's digital world.
Parents, guardians, caregivers, and teachers can take the following measures to help protect children from becoming victims of online child predators .
Some popular apps with kids that may pose heightened concerns and risks:
Caregivers should familiarize themselves with the apps their kids are using and use parental controls where possible.
Be proactive. Teach kids to spot common tricks used by online offenders. In National Center for Missing and Exploited Children CyberTipline reports, the most common tactics used to entice a child online were:
Engaging the child in sexual conversation/roleplay as a grooming method.
Directly asking the child for sexually explicit images of themselves, or offering to mutually exchange images.
Developing a rapport with the child through compliments and other supportive behaviors such as “liking” their online posts.
Sending unprompted sexually explicit images of themselves.
Pretending to be younger.
Offering incentives for explicit content.
Spot the Red Flags
A child who is experiencing online enticement may be:
Spending increasing time online.
Getting upset when he or she is not allowed on their device.
Taking extra steps to conceal what they are doing online.
Receiving gifts from people you don’t know.
For more resources, visit The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children
- Discuss internet safety and develop an online safety plan with children before they engage in online activity. Establish clear guidelines, teach children to spot red flags, and encourage children to have open communication with you.
- Supervise young children’s use of the internet, including periodically checking their profiles and posts. Keep electronic devices in open, common areas of the home and consider setting time limits for their use.
- Review games, apps, and social media sites before they are downloaded or used by children. Pay particular attention to apps and sites that feature end-to-end encryption, direct messaging, video chats, file uploads, and user anonymity, which are frequently relied upon by online child predators.
- Adjust privacy settings and use parental controls for online games, apps, social medial sites, and electronic devices.
- Tell children to avoid sharing personal information, photos, and videos online in public forums or with people they do not know in real life. Explain to your children that images posted online will be permanently on the internet.
- Teach children about body safety and boundaries, including the importance of saying ‘no’ to inappropriate requests both in the physical world and the virtual world.
- Be alert to potential signs of abuse, including changes in children’s use of electronic devices, attempts to conceal online activity, withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, anxiety, and depression.
- Encourage children to tell a parent, guardian, or other trusted adult if anyone asks them to engage in sexual activity or other inappropriate behavior.
- Immediately report suspected online enticement or sexual exploitation of a child by calling 911, contacting the FBI at tips.fbi.gov, or filing a report with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-843-5678 or report.cybertip.org.
Source – Justice.Gov