In this day in age, children and teens are commonly online, but online predators are surfing the web as well. "Online predators look to take advantage of a child’s innocence by intimidating them or putting them into inappropriate situations,” said Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge in a recent press release. “And that is why parents and adults must be vigilant in knowing what children are doing and who exactly they are talking to online to make sure they are safe.” Suggested guidelines for internet browsing for children and teens include:
Keep passwords, pictures and secrets to yourself. Remind your children never to arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they first met online.
Teach your children not to post anything on the Internet that they would not want others to see.
Help them remember that people they meet online are not always who they say they are.
Let your children know that they should not say anything online that they would not say in public.
Tell them not to respond to messages that are inappropriate or make them feel uncomfortable in any way.
Encourage your children to come to you if they encounter a problem online. Parents/caregivers can lessen the likelihood of their child becoming a victim of an online predator through keeping the lines of communication open, monitoring their child’s internet activity, and direct instruction on internet safety.
Never assume anything. Remember if your child does come in contact with an online predator, the child is the victim. Talk to your child about sexual victimization and the potential for online dangers. Parents should use the parental control settings: maintain access to emails and online accounts; place the computer in a common room in the house, not in the child’s bedroom; and be aware of the computer safeguards anywhere your child might access a computer and internet such as school, the library, or a friend’s house. Instruct your child in the correct use of online resources. Spend time with your child on the internet and encourage them to teach you what they know. Tell your child to never automatically assume what they are told online is true. Another danger children face connected with technology is cyberbullying. According to the website stopbullying.gov, cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites. Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles. The Arkansas Attorney General’s office recommends the following strategies if your child is facing cyberbullying: Never reply to anyone in anger.
Stop, block and tell – do not reply, block the sender, tell someone.
Save the message and show a trusted adult. Be a friend — if you know of someone who is being cyberbullied, let your parent know.
Parents should consider reporting the cyberbullying to local law enforcement authorities.
The Arkansas Attorney General’s office has excellent information for consumers at their website, www.arkansasag.gov. For additional resources on consumer issues and family life, contact Casey Jarding – County Extension Agent at 479-667-3720 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture is an equal opportunity /equal access/affirmative action institution.