Parents should be proactive in protecting their children from online predators. Here are some to things to do now.

The internet is a very powerful tool. It gives us instant access to enormous amounts of valuable information, amazing entertainment, and keeps us connected with friends and family. However, as useful and enjoyable as it is, the internet is a very dangerous place for childrenParents must be aware of the online threats to children and play an important role in teaching them how to safely maneuver through cyberspace. 

Some of those online dangers that parents may not think about include sextortion and child predators. Not something you think your child would ever encounter, right? Wrong.  

According to the following statistics, it is more common than most parents know: 

  • One in 33 youth received an aggressive sexual solicitation in the past year. This means a predator asked a young person to meet somewhere, called a young person on the phone, and/or sent the young person correspondence, money, or gifts through the U.S. Postal Service. 

                 – Your Internet Safety Survey 

  • 75% of children are willing to share personal information online about themselves and their family in exchange for goods and services. 

                 – eMarketer 

  • 25% of children have been exposed to unwanted pornographic material online. 

                – Crimes Against Children Research Center 

  • Only approximately 25% of children who encountered a sexual approach or solicitation told a parent or adult. 

                 – Crimes Against Children Research Center 

Here are some things parents can do right now to keep your child safe from online predators: 

  • Talk with your child about online predators and the dangers of chatting with strangers online.  
  • Tell them to never share their personal information or revealing images online. Remind children that everything shared online LIVES online. It could eventually reach a predator who could use that image or information to blackmail them into doing something even worse.  
  • Enable privacy settings on all electronic devices. 
  • Limit your child’s time online. 
  • Know your child’s online activities and friends. Have access to their passwords. 
  • Regularly check your child’s online activitiessocial appsinteractive games, and messaging apps.  

In addition, parents should install the OffenderWatch Safe Virtual Neighborhood app on your phone and your child’s phone 

By downloading the app and signing up with Safe Virtual Neighborhood, parents are alerted if a registered sex offender engages their children through Snapchat, texts, phone calls or emails. Parents are also alerted if their child lingers near a sex offender’s home for an extended time.  

By taking these easy and important steps, parents can help prevent the unthinkable.