Teens and Internet Predators
Did you know:
- More than 500,000 predators are online everyday
- Kids 12 to 15 are susceptible to being groomed and manipulated by offenders online
- FBI stats show that more than 50% of victims of online sexual exploitation are 12-15 years old
- 89 % of all sexual advances towards our children take place in internet chat rooms and through instant messaging
- In (27%) of exploitation incidents, predators asked kids for sexual photographs of themselves.
- 4% of kids get “aggressive” sexual solicitations that included attempts to contact the kids offline
- Communication is key. Talk to your kids about sexual predators and potential online dangers.
- Use family safety settings that are built into Windows 8, Windows 7, and Windows Vista.
- Follow age limits on social networking websites. Most social networking sites require that users be age 13 and over. If your children are under the recommended age for these sites, do not let them use them.
- Young children should not use chat rooms—the dangers are too great. As children get older, direct them towards well-monitored kids' chat rooms. Encourage even your teens to use monitored chat rooms.
- If your children take part in chat rooms, make sure you know which ones they visit and with whom they talk. Monitor the chat areas yourself to see what kind of conversations take place.
- Instruct your children to never leave the chat room's public area. Many chat rooms offer private areas where users can have one-on-one chats with other users-chat monitors can't read these conversations. These are often referred to as "whisper" areas.
- Keep the Internet-connected computer in a common area of the house, never in a child's bedroom. It is much more difficult for a predator to establish a relationship with your child if the computer screen is easily visible. Even when the computer is in a public area of your home, sit with your child when they are online.
- When your children are young, they should share the family email address rather than have their own email accounts. As they get older, you can ask your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to set up a separate email address, but your children's mail can still reside in your account.
- Tell your children to never respond to instant messaging or emails from strangers. If your children use computers in places outside your supervision-public library, school, or friends' homes-find out what computer safeguards are used.
- If all precautions fail and your kids do meet an online predator, don't blame them. The offender always bears full responsibility. Take decisive action to stop your child from any further contact with this person.
How can your kids reduce the risk of being victimized?There are a number of precautions that kids can take, including:
- Never downloading images from an unknown source-they could be sexually explicit.
- Using email filters.
- Telling an adult immediately if anything that happens online makes them feel uncomfortable or frightened.
- Choosing a gender-neutral screen name that doesn't contain sexually suggestive words or reveal personal information.
- Never revealing personal information about themselves (including age and gender) or information about their family to anyone online and not filling out online personal profiles. For more specific rules, see How to help your kids use social websites more safely.
- Stopping any email communication, instant messaging conversations, or chats if anyone starts to ask questions that are too personal or sexually suggestive.
- Posting the family online agreement near the computer to remind them to protect their privacy on the Internet.