Policing Your Child In Cyberspac
Our children can be victimized by cyberspace predators. Predators access cyberspace at the doors of social media to lure children into a world of violence and sexual abuse. Predators skillfully hide in the crevices of the internet to conceal their malicious intent, which often is not uncovered until after they violate a child. Consequently, the best defense in preventing cyberspace predators into our children’s life is the policing of our children.
Talk To Them
It begins with an initial conversation. Single parents talk to your children about common sense interaction on social media and the internet in general. Begin your talk with the importance of not sharing any personal information to anyone via social media or any other interaction. Let your children know not to give their full name, social security or date of birth on any website. Most parents are unaware that it is illegal for any online organization or affiliation to request personal information of a minor.
Parents are very concern about the vulnerability of their children on the internet. With the educational potential of the internet, children are sometimes unaware of the importance of limiting the amount of information they share online. Protective parents are very aware and as a result of their articulated concern, The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was passed.
Managed by The Federal Trade Commission, COPPA directly protects anyone 13 years old and under. All online companies and individuals most receive parental consent before using children’s personal information retrieved via the internet.
What Is Personal?
Personal information is defined by COPPA as “any information that can be used to track a child’s activities over time and across different websites and online services”. This is not limited to the basic personal information such as name and address. Due to the internet’s permanence and tracking ability it also extends to “IP addresses” as well as recordings.
Do you restrict your child's access to the internet?
Who Should Have Access?
Due to the sophisticated aspect of cyberspace, access to the internet should begin at middle school level. If our elementary school students gain access it should be with the presence of a parent. Elementary age children play oriented by nature will at times inadvertently give out private information. As a result their access to the internet most be monitored but more importantly restricted. Many moppets possess electronic devices and hence ultimately access to the World Wide Web. Hence, before setting up the device parents can program child friendly programs by means of icons which will help confine a child’s access to restricted internet areas.
When middle school children get into cyberspace at home parents must have another conversation about the danger of chat rooms, Instagram, Facebook, and other social media where predators pose as un-consuming friendly peer. Parents when you discuss the nature of predators with your children it is important to provide examples, there is nothing more impacting then experiences of peers. Below are three true stories courtesy of a veteran police officer; they are harsh reality about the persuasive skills of predators.
Story number 1:
An organization approached parents of school aged middle school students and asked how confident they feel about their child’s unwillingness to interact with strangers on the internet. The parent of an 11 year old was very confident, so much so that he did not mind if the organization send in an undercover predator.
When contact was made, via Instagram, the 11 year old engaged in a volley chat that lead to an agreement to meet in the park. The confident parent’s 11 year old met up with the undercover predator, with the hopes of meeting a friend her age. Instead it was dad and the organization representative. Dad was livid, and as his daughter stood wide eyed and nervous, proceed to yelled at his daughter about how “stupid” her actions were and that he thought she knew better.
Story number 2:
The same organization approached both parents about testing their 12 year old child’s willingness to give out private information. These parents were very confident that their child would not give out her address. The contact was made via Facebook, and within a short period a friendly banter developed between the undercover predator and the child. The pretender posing as a peer was able to convince the young lady to meet at her home. Her parents were still convinced that their child would not give out their home address.
After a series of additional peer type conversations the child gave out her home address. Her parents were appalled and disappointed. They stood at the door with the undercover person as their daughter opened the door to let the cyberspace friend in. The agreement that the child made with her new internet buddy was that after her parents full asleep she can let him in. When the child opened the door parent and child were surprise but the pretender was not. Dad yelled and demanded to know, "why would you give out your home address and invite a stranger over without permission?".
Story number 3:
Again the same organization same pretender but different family and different age. The teenage engaged with cyberspace interaction with someone she thought to be her age. It was a free fall conversation that resulted in her giving out her home address and making arrangement to be picked up. The white van arrived outside, she received the call that he was outside. The adolescent willing got into the van when the adult driver told her that the boy was in the back of the van. Upon getting into the van two masked individual restrained her. After several screams the identity of the masked adults shocked the teenager into a silent relief, her parents looked at their daughter with shock and disappointment. Dad did the traditional yelling.
In all three instances the parents discussed the danger of giving out personal information over the internet or for that matter over the phone, and in every instances that communication proved to be futile. When asked why the children ignore their parents warning, the police officer said, that question was never asked because the focus was the parents and making them aware how easy it is for a predator to persuade a child.
The police officer said these examples are great to us when talking to a child about the dangers of cyberspace. But, she declared, talking is not sufficient to keep your child protected. It is imperative to police your children’s use of the internet as well as the cell phone. The cell in addition to having internet access, also allows for unauthorized conversation and or arrangements. The best way to police our children, as per the officer, is at the end of a school day retrieve the laptop and cell phone. Once in your possession review the content of all devices. Also, most phones come with the possibility of a tracking service, sign up for the service so that you can track your child’s locality.
This suggestion of course is only one recommendation. In single parent mode, it is necessary to be as creative as possible in the policing of your children in cyberspace.