Internet safety for children has become a rising concern to parents all around the world. Every day we hear and watch some sort of disturbing news regarding children who fall victims to dangerous predators, who have found a new and easy way of preying on their victims by the use of the Internet from the convenience of their homes in the last decade or so. Similar to other technological innovations, World Wide Web has many great advantageous. It opens a world of possibilities for children exposing them to an enormous ocean of knowledge and information. Despite the benefits of the Internet such as staying connected with loved ones through social networking sites, learning/gaining knowledge, and doing school work; unfortunately it also can make children more susceptible to on-line threats because it also has become a tool in hands of on-line criminals. In such a beneficial yet unsafe and risky environment, parents must be equipped with useful and adequate means to detect early on signs of their children being at risk and minimize and prevent the chances of on-line exploiters from victimizing their children. With Internet connectivity and availability in almost every home, proper parenting becomes essential for on-line safety of children.
In attempt to hopefully lessen and eliminate such dangerous and sometimes life-threatening risks, parents must carefully and rigorously study children and offenders behaviors as well as different types of risks facing their offspring on the Internet. Child pedophiles and sex offenders are on-line around the clock and have learned many ways to lure their victims. Some of them slowly seduce their targets by being nice, giving gifts and attention during some period of time patiently. Then they gradually introduce sexual images and dialogs to their conversations. However, there are other kinds of pedophiles who engage in sexually conversation with children almost immediately. Some offenders collect and exchange child-pornographic pictures, while others ask for face to face meetings (A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety [FBI], n.d.).
Additionally, some children, especially adolescents, are curious and interested in taking on some adventures and voluntarily seek information about sexuality and sexually explicit material on-line which makes those children more easy targets for cyber criminals (A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety [FBI], n.d.).
Furthermore, there are many types of risks that children encounter on-line and parents must be aware of such as content and contact risks. Content risks include participation in sexual conversations and solicited for/ exposure to sexual material. Contact risks as it appears from the name, involve closer contact with strangers and in worst cases, possibility of in person meetings.
Without support and guidance from parents, the chances of children being exposed to the unknown world of Internet dangers increase tremendously. Yet parental tight supervision can backfire and cause tension between parents and children if the parents are not prepared to communicate and educate their children effectively. The problem is intensified because children nowadays are more proficient in computers than their parents and normally do not want to take their parents' advice when it comes to use of technology. Therefore, the major goal is for parents to learn how to interact with their children and help them benefit from the Internet while protecting them from the on-line hazards (Yu Cheung, 2008, P. 1).
As Yu Cheung (2008) suggests in his findings, the better educated parents, more closer and open relationship between parents and children, the adoption of an authoritative parenting style, more active involvement in children's online activities, establishing close friendship with their children, and more discussions of the online experiences are factors which are associated with more satisfactory results in directing and influencing children's behavior on-line and; hence, reducing the risk of becoming victims of on-line crimes (P. 1).
Parents of children age 5-17 who use the Internet regularly and for long periods of times are becoming more and more apprehensive that their children online activities might be hazardous and in some cases can even affect their future severely. Parents are protective and worried by nature; therefore, they try their best to minimize harm and threats by monitoring and managing their children's on-line behaviors, especially social media and chat room activities, but as we know too much control in most cases fails. In order for parents to succeed in their great intentions to protect their children, they need to have a step by step, clear, complete, and easy to follow guide. Parents also must educate themselves on new technologies and trends and do not overlook any suspicious behaviors they notice.
The pain and damage of losing a child to a sexual predator is tremendous and non-reversible. Even if the child survives, he or she will be traumatized for a long time and maybe forever. The victims may not be able to enjoy a normal happy life ever again. This could be all avoided with following simple instructions on both parents and children sides and practicing caution when interacting on-line.
In conclusion, everyone knows parenting is and has always been an incredibly demanding task. Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs yet so rewarding because parents love and care about their children unconditionally. The horrible news and disappointing statistic regarding the atrocious incidents that happen to children who fall victim to on-line villains are drastic enough to make any good parent determined to take action to stop such incidents from happening. With the rapid rate of the technology growth in recent years, there are new risks and dangers emerging and facing children even if they are at safety of their homes doing homework on the computer, but the situation is not hopeless. There are ways to put parents' minds on ease. Parents should know they are not alone when it comes to the surge of overwhelming on-line anxiety pressure as there is help available. By being active learners, participants, nurturers, teachers, and skilled communicators; parents should have less to worry when it comes to their children safety and protection on-line.
A Parent's Guide to Internet Safety. In Federal Bureau of Investigation Cyber Division.
Retrieved April, 1, 2014, from http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/publications/parent-guide.
Yu Cheung Wong. (2010). 'Cyber-Parenting: Internet Benefits, Risks and Parenting Issues.
'Journal of Technology in Human Services. 28(4), 252-273. 22p. 10 Charts. DOI: 10.1080/15228835.2011.562629. SocINDEX. Web. 1.April. 2014.
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