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Online Safety

Everyone online is a potential victim. One of five children age 10 to 17 has already been sexually solicited online and the predators have tried to meet at least 15 percent of them in person.

The following are characteristics of children that may indicate they are victims of Internet predators:

  • Children who spend an inordinate amount of time online in private
  • Loners with few friends who find it easier to be friends with others online
  • Children who may not spend much time with their families
  • Children who post photos, videos, and/or private information online
  • Children who have no disciplinarian figure in the household

Common Methods Used By Internet Predators

  • Grooming—Predators will spend a lot of time breaking down barriers to get the child to feel comfortable enough to divulge personal information.
  • Fishing—The predator will attempt to learn personal details about the child through seemingly harmless conversations.
  • Mirroring—The predator will attempt to imitate the emotional status of the child in hopes of befriending the child.

What Parents Can Do: Control Access

  • Keep your computer in a common area accessible to everyone in the home.
  • Regularly monitor your children when they’re online and set time limits.
  • Install filtering, tracking, and blocking software to monitor what your children are doing online.
  • Adjust parental controls offered by your Internet Service Provider to limit your child’s access to inappropriate material.
  • Check your computer’s Internet history to see what sites your child visits.
  • Most importantly, be a parent. Don’t rely on software to be your babysitter…talk and listen to your child.

Online Safety—Prepare A Plan

  • Establish rules for Internet use and post them near the computer.
  • Help your child choose a screen name (avoid using any suggestive or vital information that could be used to exploit your child).
  • Advise your children to:
  • Never agree to meet someone they’ve met online.
  • Never provide their name, address, school name, parent’s name, or any other personal information.
  • Never transmit a picture of themselves or others.
  • Teach your child about the dangers of online profiles on social networking sites and blogging, as child sexual predators use these on the Internet to target potential victims.

Source: Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett

Top Ten List for Internet Safety

  1. Don’t respond to e-mails from people you do not know.
  2. Always tell a parent or adult about anything you see online that makes you feel uncomfortable.
  3. Never give out your personal information.
  4. Never open files attached to unfamiliar e-mails.
  5. Never keep secrets from your parents about your Internet activity.
  6. Never post photos of yourself or family members online.
  7. Never agree to meet face-to-face with someone you met online.
  8. Never accept gifts from someone you met online.
  9. Remember that predators often pretend to be children online.
  10. Avoid adults-only Web sites.

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