Online predators rely on situations where they can engage in conversations with children, without adults stepping in. Aside from other issues such as the impact on sleep due to reduced impulse control, devices in bedrooms allow for the proverbial door to be shut on chats, and essentially allows a stranger private time with your child. Predators are sophisticated in the ways they can manipulate unsuspecting children without parental supervision and involvement.
Hot Tip – If your child likes gaming, keep headphones out of game time for as long as possible. Parents need to hear what is being said, and more importantly who is speaking to them!
Problems occur when vulnerable kids’ online relationships start to become stronger than those in their real worlds. Online predators actively seek susceptible teens to prey on. They may encourage that child or teen to show reduced interest in those peers or family in their own home or school, and manipulate them to become more connected with the predator instead. Be sure to keep home relationships strong and compassionate, and while being open to the online world and the support it offers, parents must know who their kids are investing time in and why. It always pays to ensure home is truly where their heart is.
One of the biggest risk areas (and one that is commonly often overlooked by parents) is the presence of online or in-game chat, or open social media profiles which allow strangers to contact children directly. Even the most innocent looking games like Minecraft for example, connect kids straight into a melting pot of people they don’t know.
If you have younger children, it is helpful to discuss these 3 x rules of engagement with any person they come into contact with online.
- Know a person’s first and last name.
- Know that person in real life.
- Your parents must know that person, and give their ok.
If they can’t answer YES to those 3 questions, they either need to work on answering them with a parent's help, or disengage.