Education is key. Speak to your kids. Just as you taught them not to talk to strangers on the street, remind your children that contacts online are STRANGERS unless you know that you are speaking with a relative or a friend.
People are not who they say they are.
- People lie. As adults we know this, but our children do not.
- Emphasize how easily it is to hide your identity on the internet.
- Visit a chat room with your child and point out the ways in which it would be easy for a person to lie about their true identity. In this way you are showing rather than telling your child.
- Ask your child to point out ways in which a person could be hiding truth.
- Your participation is the key!
Never provide personal information: Information can and will be misused.
- Impress upon your child to always use their chat name.
- Impress upon your child that it is okay to fill out fields in the profile sections of communities just as long as they stick with general information such as “I collect sea shells” or “I enjoy football”. Any field asking for personal information such as name, city, school should be left blank. Profile sections are where Internet predators scan for potential victims. Just because there are areas asking for information, it DOES NOT mean you have to fill them out!!
- Visit the profile section of an online community and go through what is and is not appropriate to fill in.
- Impress upon your child to never give out home address, phone number or any other personal information such as the school they attend, name of their team, street they live on, even the city they live in. Please refer to How Can a Pedophile find my child?
- Impress upon your child to stay anonymous. No matter how long they have been chatting with someone, they are still strangers.
- Impress upon your child not to give out email addresses on first meeting.
Kids are born to explore. They are going to want to meet each other or the person they believe to be their peer. We must make sure our children understand that no matter what they are doing or whom they are meeting, they must tell a trusted adult, preferably a parent, what they plan to do and who and where they plan to meet.
We strongly advise against any face-to-face meetings with online strangers!!!!