During the pandemic, our kids of all ages have been driven to the internet for schoolwork, play, connection, and phone chats.
We are not the only ones who have noticed the increased activity of kids of all ages becoming accessible online.
Cybercrime experts are reporting an increase in child exploitation from sexual predators online.
These predators are often impersonating a youth around the victims' age and draw them into ‘sexually explicit conversations’, often convincing them to share photos or videos of themselves. This is an issue for both girls and boys.
How can we protect our kids from these predators invading our homes?
Experts recommend the following tips for parents to follow:
*Create a safe space for your child to come to you when things don’t feel right to them. Make them aware that they will not get in trouble, but that you are with them to process how to handle situations that they are not quite ready to handle.
*Encourage your kids to say “no” if someone they do not know asks them for photos or videos.
*Create boundaries of where they can take phones, laptops, or tablets. Examples: avoid bedroom and bathroom use.
*Become familiar with what apps, games, and websites they are using. Explore them together, checking privacy settings and parental controls.
*Create age-appropriate family rules for accepting friend requests.
*The most important aspect of protecting our kids is creating a safe place for open dialogue. Often when kids experience this kind of request, they are fearful to come to us, because they do not want to get into trouble. Be a safe place and don't freak out if they come to you. Be calm! Stay cool and work together to resolve the issue!
*In our home, we had a family rule that we would process difficult tech situations together, no punishment, no judgment, just learning together how to handle difficult situations the right way. This was a training ground for decision making as they grew up.
What boundaries does your family need to explore together?