Parents + Caregivers
When children go online, they have direct and immediate access to friends, family, and complete strangers, which can put unsuspecting children at great risk. Children who meet and communicate with strangers online are easy prey for Internet predators. Predators have easy and anonymous access to children online where they can conceal their identity and roam without limit. Often, we have an image of sexual predators lurking around school playgrounds or hiding behind bushes scoping out their potential victims, but the reality is that today’s sexual predators search for victims while hiding behind a computer screen, taking advantage of the anonymity the Internet offers.
“Do you know what I do online?”
Keep your child or home computer/laptop in an open area of your home. Monitor other points of Internet access including your child’s cell phone, portable music device, etc. Password protect all internet / wi-fi sources. Rules such as a place mobile devices are left at bedtime can increase safety.
“Why are you bothering me?”
Spend time online alongside your children and create an atmosphere of trust. Discuss what is safe, unsafe, and allowed on mobile/internet devices.
“I don’t have Tik-Tok.”
Know all of children’s passwords, screen names, and all account information. Know who each person on their friend/ follow list is someone they know in person and have been approved by you. Remind your children that the people they meet online may not be who they say they are.
“Why are you stalking me?”
Make sure you, as the parent, are added to your child’s friend / follow list and that their profiles are set to “private.” If you are unsure whether your child has a profile, conduct a simple online search through the site or by typing their name into a search engine. Regularly check their phones/computers/mobile devices, just as you would check their rooms or possessions for safety.
“It's just a selfie.”
Photos and videos are the primary ways kids and teens communicate online. These images may make your child vulnerable to online predators, cyberbullies, and strangers, or lead to damaged reputations. Check regularly that any photos/videos do not contain any personally identifiable information, or give away where you and your child live.
“It’s no big deal.”
Remind your children to think before they post: there are no take-backs online. Nothing is truly private on the Internet; any and all information sent or posted online is public or can be made public.
Tell your children they should never meet with or call someone they don’t know in real life from the internet. Tell them they need to tell you if anyone makes them feel scared, uncomfortable, confused, asks for any personal or personally identifiable information, or suggests meeting them.
“I sent a nude…I don’t know what to do.”
If your child discloses they were a victim of online sexual exploitation or sextortion? The first step is to remain calm. Even if you are angry, scared or frustrated, showing your child you’re calm and know what to do is important. Don’t take quick action such as deleting images or messages; these may be important to effectively report and get help. Visit our Get Help page for next steps.