Internet can be a world of information, fun, and opportunity for growth and bliss, but only if you manage to weed out the ugly, destructive and distractive content and people. Yes, there are two categories to watch out for, the inanimate, and the animate. We want to talk about the potentially hazardous living entities of the internet world, and how you can direct your children to stay safe from their intent and actions. Here is a list of top 10 precautionary steps for kids to stay safe online. The most useful advice you can quote us to your kids:
Personal pictures are always in dangers of being abused in the web environment. First of all, everyone will be able to see them, your parents, grandparents, relatives, teachers, and… second, they are going to be there forever, there’s no deleting viral pictures from the internet, so you will be permanently humiliated and harassed, it’s not going to pass. Third, they may attract the attention of all the wrong people, predators, trollers, kidnappers, even sex-traffickers. So, if a picture is too attention-getting or explicit, or reveals some level of personal information about you, don’t risk posting or sharing it on your digital device, on or off-line.
Don’t give personal information
You think you are just casually introducing yourself, thinking you would sound like a paranoid freak if you don’t, especially since it’s the beginning of the conversation, and you can’t salvage the first impression later on. But just think of the scenario where things go wrong, or the seemingly-pleasant person you just met turns out to be a professional identity thief, sexual predator, or a cyber or -real-world stalker. It’s too much of a risk to take, when you can always tell people your full name, your phone number or address later, if necessary and deemed safe.
Don’t talk to adults without your parents’ knowledge.
Let your parents know when you are talking to someone online, and tell them about what you usually talk about, where they are from, what they are like, and so on. Not only you will establish a trust with your parents by constantly communicating with them, you will be protecting yourself from possible harm, if something were to happen, as they have enough information to come to your rescue, if need be.
Try to use a screen name instead of your real name.
Keep your real identity unknown as much as possible, there are plenty of ways to play with the words and come up with internet account names, you really don’t have to use your real name. When you are dealing with well-meaning well-balanced people, your real identity is an asset in connecting with others, but unfortunately you can’t count on people being, or staying mentally sound, stable and good-intentioned, and when they know your real name, they may try to find and harm you in person, harass you in a variety of ways. For example, spread slanderous and scandalous content about you, give your information to criminals and sex-traffickers, send threatening email to you, or even show up at your school.
Never share passwords
You might come to feel someone is a friend, and will never do anything to harm you if you give them your passwords. But they may just do that unintentionally by being careless with it, or save it somewhere that can be accessed by people who would easily steal your identity, empty your bank account, or threaten and bully people using your account. Or, the very friend themselves may come to be disgruntled with and hold a grudge against you at some later point, and try to harm you to get even. So, sharing passwords is almost never a good idea, it needs to be your one-copy-only key to your accounts everywhere.
If you agree with meeting someone online, let someone know.
There are a lot of interesting and good people out there who could make life-long friends, business partners at some point, even life partners, and overall great additions to your life, but then again there are people who do not mean well towards you, as taking care of their interest would mean stepping on yours. So, no matter how civil, pleasant, and unalarming you conversation with a stranger you’ve met online has been, when you decide to meet them in person, let someone close know, it would be ideal if one or both of your parents, or a friend knows, to look for and watch your back, so that on the off-chance that the person turns out to have less-than-perfect intentions, you will be saved from the situation in time.
Talk about inappropriate or traumatic online experiences with someone.
The me-too movement started with creating just this culture, speak out about being harassed, when you have an inappropriate conversation with someone, they send you explicit pictures, propose inappropriate encounters, verbally abuse you , or put you through any sort of harassment or bullying, talk about it, not only you will vent, and not let the psychological trauma cause mental health issues, you will contribute to the culture of silence being broken, exposing the perpetrators, and make them rethink their behavior in fear of being exposed, and, you may just get someone to do something about it.
Just don’t assume “all “strangers mean well.
A source of one of the biggest rifts between parents and children is that parents almost always think all strangers are potential threats unless proven absolutely otherwise, and children almost always think all strangers mean well unless proven absolutely otherwise, which is pretty ironic. Parents feel like they can’t afford to think too optimistically, there’s just too much at stake, and children tend to think their parents are old-fashioned and over-protective. It doesn’t have to be so polar, if children only acknowledge this much: “not all” strangers are harmless, just watch out for red flags, a lot of damage can be prevented. Be positive and welcoming of new connections and friendships, but keep an open mind that some may turn out to be evil-meaning. That would suffice to keep you safe, a good portion of the times.
Tell your online friend someone knows you’re meeting up
Absolute majority of times predators count on children keeping their conversations and online contact from their parents and almost everyone, so, the creeps are sure whatever they do, no one will know. The best remedy for that is a pre-emotive measure, instruct your children to let people they talk know that they tell their parents and friends about all their conversations. This way if they have indecent intentions, they won’t pursue it anymore, for the fear of getting caught by the parent or reported by the friend or peer.
Don’t respond to harassing or threatening mails or messages, report them.
Most of people who are psychologically imbalanced or potentially dangerous enough to send threatening email, trolling messages, or otherwise cyberbully you, get off on the thrill of triggering and scaring you, it makes them feel powerful, the way they probably have not felt throughout their lives. So, the key move here is not responding to them, or you will be enabling them, but make sure you report them to whoever you think will be able to do something about it, your parents, the authorities, etc. They need to know they won’t get a reaction out of you, but probably get one from an authority figure, who can bring about some form of consequence.
Your children can get nurtured by these steps for kids to stay safe online, and all the good information, connections and experimentations that is accessible online, only if they know what to watch out for and dodge digital bullets. If you manage to convince them not to share their real information, not give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and always make sure people they get into conversation, or different types of relationships with know that a concerned adult is in on everything, they are pretty much capable of keeping things safe and constructive. Of course, that does not mean that they should be left to make their own decision all through, you still need your own set of supervision tools to make sure they make the right moves at sensitive, times, places, and circumstances.