Officer Steve DeWarns, one of SocialShield’s Advisors and founder of Internet Child Safety, recently spoke at St. Joachim School in Hayward. In his talks, Steve often focuses on predators and cyberbullying as the biggest online threats out there.
In this latest talk, Steve raised some important points all parents should know. For one thing, it’s shocking how much time online predators will spend communicating with a kid online in order to gain their trust. And we’re not talking hours or days – Steve has found people who spend months creating an online relationship with a kid before attempting to arrange an actual physical meeting. So even if it doesn’t seem like your child has encountered any suspicious online activity, their newest – and seemingly innocent – Facebook friend might actually be an adult with other motives.
We also have to understand the reasons why our kids may not tell us about any suspicious online activity they’re involved with. Here are Steve’s top 5 reasons why kids don’t tell their parents if they’ve been talking to a less than ideal friend online:
- They don’t want to get restricted access to the computer.
- They don’t want to end contact with their new “friend.”
- They truly believe the promises that friend makes.
- They are afraid of getting punished for their own conduct or participation in inappropriate online behaviors.
- They are embarrassed of what they have said or done online.
It’s not that our kids don’t recognize the dangers out there; they might just be scared or confused and that’s why they need their parents’ help. Steve also makes the point that parental monitoring online isn’t spying – it’s being there for our kids when they don’t have the foresight to truly understand what their online actions may imply. Social networking is an exciting world in itself and who can blame kids for getting caught up in it? What parents can do is give kids the freedom to explore this world, along with the protection that guarantees a positive experience in it.
How do you communicate with your kids about what they’re doing online?