Why you need to keep your connected kids safe
The internet has become a mainstay of our culture. Kids grow up playing on their moms phone or their own tablets, playing on computers, and enjoying the benefits of technology. The internet is a wonderful source of information, and a valuable teaching tool, but it also has its dangers. It's a key way for sex traffickers and other unsavory characters to find children to exploit. Finding statistics on trafficking is difficult, but its thought that women and children are brought into the US from other countries for forced labor as often as every 10 minutes. Inside the US, about 300,000 children are exploited.
Talk to your kids about internet safety
A surprising number of parents don't speak with their kids about internet safety at all. In a recent poll conducted by AVG, only 43% of parents had spoken to their children about internet safety. Most of these children are doing things their parents would find inappropriate, mostly talking to strangers, but also looking at violent videos or pornographic websites.
Keep computers and tablets in a common area
When your kids are squirreled away in their rooms with their computers, it's much easier for them to have private conversations with strangers, share their phone number and home address, or look at inappropriate content. Putting the computer in a common room both discourages them from doing inappropriate things, but also helps you check and make sure that when a stranger is talking to them, those strangers are also being appropriate.
Check browsing history
Your kid might be pretty good at not looking at sexual content while you're in the room, but they may not be savvy enough to delete their browsing history when they're done. Check up on what they are looking at when they think the coast is clear. Not only will you get a better idea of what their current interests are, but you can also have a talk about porn if it ends up they're visiting inappropriate websites.
If they're good at keeping their browsing history hidden, there are programs you can download onto your computer that help you monitor what your kids are doing.
Think your kid is being preyed on? Call the police.
Even if you just think a sexual predator or other victimization may be taking place, don't hesitate to call the police. Don't touch the computer between the time you make the call and the police arrive either. It could have important evidence on it.
The police take these problems seriously, and will investigate anything that looks like grooming. If you're not sure what might be grooming, little gifts in the mail, money or phones they suddenly have but can't explain, or spending more or less time online than usual. You may also notice their behavior becoming more sexualized, or other sudden changes in attitude.
You may hesitate to call over suspicions, but in this case it is alwaysbetter to be safe than sorry. Every year 1.2 million children are trafficked. Don't let your kid be one of them.