In today’s technological world, it’s rare to see a child without access to the internet. From computers to iPods to smartphones, the internet is no longer a special tool used only for occasional school assignments; it is instead a part of our child’s everyday life. So with all of this technology at their fingertips every single day, how do we keep them safe?
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Most parents don’t give much thought to internet safety. They instead rest their faith in the fact that they have a “good child” or a “great and open relationship” with their child. Yet frightening statistics continue to rise. First, let’s tackle online child predators. We have all seen an episode of “To Catch a Predator.” Most of us have read the headlines about children missing or found dead after agreeing to a date with an unknown online predator; still many parents continue to live under the illusion that it will never happen to their children.
According to a recent report by ABC News, 1 in 5 children who use the internet are approached online by a sexual predator. These predators typically conceal their identities by posing as a teenager or a child of a similar age. They connect with the child on a regular basis in chat rooms on sites such as Google, Yahoo or TextPlus. Many even approach children through instant messaging, Skype or social media sites like Facebook. They begin building a trust with the child through basic conversation and then eventually suggest a meeting.
If the simplicity of their approach weren’t scary enough, consider these statistics from a report from SafeWave:
- 75% of children are willing to share personal information (including addresses) with strangers on the internet
- 25% of children said they would tell a parent or other adult if sexually solicited online
- 22% of the children targeted by online predators are between the ages of 10 and 13
- 30% of children who become victimized by a sexual predator are young boys
Even if a child predator is not your biggest concern, the amount of adult material available for children to view these days is quite alarming. Nearly every search engine available can lead a child to pornographic photos or websites. In fact, according to a recent poll from NetMums, 42 percent of children say they have seen online porn. According to Faye Rogaski, founder of socialsklz, despite some parents’ efforts to install protective software, it is still quite easy for predators and pornography to reach our children. “Kids’ sites, games, and technologies are among the largest growth markets and most of our kids spend more time connected to digital technologies than they do sleeping,” she says. “New viruses and dangerous sites are popping up every hour despite the very best safety filters.”
NEXT: Learn about protecting your children from cyberbullying.