4 Dangers of the Internet
Protect your kids from cyberbullying and exposure to sexual predators with these Internet safety tips from the experts.
In the age of YouTube, a website that hosts videos shot by users, "Kids are
looking for their 15 megabytes of fame," Aftab says. "They do it to show that
they're big enough, popular enough, cool enough to get away with it."
Often, kids don't tell parents they're being cyberbullied; they're afraid
their parents will overreact or yank Internet privileges, Aftab adds. Her
advice? If your son or daughter tells you, stay calm. If it's a one-time thing,
try to ignore the bully and block future contact, she says. But if the
cyberbullying involves any physical threat, you may need to call the
Internet Safety Tips
Some tips from Netsmartz.org for responding to cyberbullying:
- To keep others from using their email and Internet accounts, kids should
never share Internet passwords with anyone other than parents, experts
- If children are harassed or bullied through instant messaging, help them
use the "block" or "ban" feature to prevent the bully from contacting
- If a child keeps getting harassing emails, delete that email account and
set up a new one. Remind your child to give the new email address only to
family and a few trusted friends.
- Tell your child not to respond to rude or harassing emails, messages and
postings. If the cyberbullying continues, call the police. Keep a record of the
emails as proof.
Internet Danger #2: Sexual Predators
The online world opens the door for trusting young people to interact with
virtual strangers - even people they'd normally cross the street to avoid in
real life. About 1 in 7 kids have been sexually solicited online, says John
Shehan, CyberTipline program manager for the National Center for Missing and
Exploited Children in Alexandria, Virginia. The CyberTipline helps prevent
sexual exploitation of children by reporting cases of kids enticed online to do
While sexual predators have targeted children in chat rooms, they migrate to
wherever young people go online, Shehan says. More predators are now scouring
social networking sites, such as MySpace and Xanga, because these sites have
centralized so much information, Shehan says. A child's profile typically
includes photos, personal interests and blogs.