30 April 2010

HOW TO: How Kids Minimize the Risk of Internet Predators

Most of us have seen the show 'To Catch a Predator' with Chris Hansen. I'm a big fan, so in this post I'm going to talk about what kids can do to minimize the risk of being targeted by Internet predators. This is a part of a series of posts, made to educate parents and kids about online predators.

Most people think that if the parents would just raise their kids right, then this online predator stuff would never happen. I agree to a point, but you gotta factor in the kid's ability to choose.

In the last HOW TO post, I talked about that. Everyone knows its important to educate parents, but today I'm going to give kids enough info to make the right decisions when responsible adults aren't around. My goal is to help take away the curiosity factor that plays a big role in most of the decisions that people make.

So lets get started. First things first, never download images from an unknown source. They could be sexual images, something you want stay away from as long as possible.
And if it does happen, let an adult know immediately. That goes for images that are sexual or anything that happens online that makes you feel uncomfortable or frightened.

You always have the freedom to stop any e-mail communication, instant messaging conversations, or chats if anyone starts to ask questions that are too personal or suggests something sexual.

Right up there with foreign passwords, you should choose a gender-neutral nickname. Get out of the habit of giving away personally identifiable information (phone #, address, email, age and gender) online; not to mention a series of photos of you in different phases of life.

I once had a friend on Facebook with thousands of photos of herself and just about as many friends. She was an aspiring model with a great personality. She attracted a lot of people, but since no one is that close to so many people, she become an easy target. Learn how to use social networking sites responsibly. Just make sure you have fun with ... be a little silly with the nicknames and try being elusive with the photos. If its too different, you might not stick with it.

Use email filters.

With that said, don't be afraid to hold someone else accountable. Make a family agreement about Internet use. Write it down and post it by the computer to remind the whole house to protect their privacy on the Internet.

Keep in mind that this is only 'how children can minimize the risk of being a victim', there's more. Next,  'what do you do if you or a child you know is being targeted'.

In the meantime, enjoy a clip from Chris Hansen's 'To Catch a Predator'.