Protecting Your Children from Online Predators: Part 2
More Important Points from "To Catch a Predator" by Chris Hansen
Written by: Jaclyn Popola
In Chris Hansen's book "To Catch a Predator: Protecting Your Kids from Online Enemies Already in Your Home" he outlines a list of twenty points that parents and children should take into consideration regarding their online experience. Here is a condensed version of the first ten.
- Limit the amount of time children spent online to two hours per day. According to research, the more time a child spends idly wandering chat rooms and social networking sites, the more time he or she has to find trouble. If the child knows they are on a time limit, they will use their time wisely -- download music, chat with friends, blog, etc. Parents can lead by example by limiting their online usage as well.
- Keep the computer in an open, communal area of the home. Wireless laptops in bedrooms is not the best idea. Parents should be able to look in from time to time, not to invade their privacy, but to glance at the screen and see who their children are talking to. This will also make children aware that you are paying attention.
- Remind children that people online are faceless, and that they are not always who they say they are. There are real-life consequences to giving out personal information online.
- According to Parry Aftab, founder of WiredSafety.org says, "Don't post anything you wouldn't want to be seen by your parents, a principal, police, or predators." Once you post something on the web, it's out of your hands. Uploading a digital image to your personal site, even if you delete it days later, could already have been seen and saved by someone else.
- Be on the lookout for your child owning a cell phone, digital camera, or Web cam that you didn't buy. It might mean that a predator bought it for your child to ensure he'll receive photos.
- Protect your passwords! Advise children not to give their passwords to their friends. A friend today could be an enemy tomorrow.
- Set your settings on MySpace so that only people you approve can access your profile.
- Don't spy or invade your child's privacy, but ask openly to see their buddy list so you know the online identities of those they are chatting with.
- Know the chat rooms your child visits. Is it a regional chat room, are the topics age-appropriate?
- Beware of your child forming an addiction to the Internet. Getting up in the middle of the night to check one's email is excessive. If it persists, and an open conversation with your child yields nothing or sends up red flags, you may want to consider checking the archive of who they have been talking to. If there is an unusual amount of time spent talking to someone you don't know, pursue this.