You should teach children that although the Internet has a wealth of information and can be used to foster social connections, it's not a private place and it can be abused. Sexual offenders take advantage of curious young minds to attract them into conversation and more. You can protect your children by enforcing Internet safety rules when they go online. Talking to your children about online dangers can prepare them in case they are approached or solicited.
Children should never give personal information online. This includes last names, addresses, telephone numbers, credit card information, the name of their school and their passwords. In addition, they shouldn't send pictures of themselves to strangers so that they can be recognized. Sexual molesters forward children's pictures regularly, putting innocent children in danger unknowingly. Furthermore, children should be careful in chat rooms; they should only chat with friends that they know and never get together with strangers they meet over the Internet.
Your children should be reminded to request your permission before downloading software from the Internet. Sometimes an innocent site is really a cover for pornography. You can dissuade children from exploring pornographic sites by keeping the home computer in full view. In addition, you can employ blocking software to protect children from accidentally entering questionable sites.
Be aware of the signs that show your child might be at risk for being sexually exploited over the Internet.
- Your child begins to spend more time on the computer in an enclosed, private space
- You find pornography on your child's computer
- You receive phone calls from people where you don't recognize the number
- Your child suddenly receives an abundance of gifts or mail
- Your child hides his whereabouts or turns off the screen when you enter the room
- Your child's personality changed to become more secretive and withdrawn.