Dear Sue Ellen
I am a mom and I’ve heard that child molesters, hackers, and kidnappers monitor kids online. Is this something I should talk to my kids about?
Here’s the short answer: YES!
Socialization among youths has drastically changed over the past few years, and it is good for children to have confident social skills, but there are a host of dangers for kids online.
Since social media has become the common way for kids to communicate, there has been a drastic increase in sex trafficking. Sex traffickers are masters at disguising themselves as teens looking for friends online. They send out masses of “friend me” requests. If a child accepts their offer, the plan to win over their trust and eventually schedule a place/time to meet them in person begins. Here is an example of how kids are kidnapped through an online connection: a teenage boy invites a girl to “friend him”. The girl doesn’t know him but he is good looking and seems like a nice guy according to his profile. In reality, he is a 31-year-old felon involved in sex-trafficking. If this girl ever agrees to meet him in person she will disappear and her parent’s may never see her again.
Sexual predators also lull kids online. Have you seen the shows on TV about this very thing? Bad people are constantly trolling the internet looking for ways to do evil things.
Your children need to be taught ways to protect themselves from online predators. They should only “friend” people they know and can verify it’s them. If they get a strange request, or if something else weird or unusual appears on any of their social media accounts, they need to come to you. Since kids can access social media on their phones, they need to tell you if they receive a call from someone they don’t know, or better yet, they need to routinely block callers they don’t recognize. Be involved with your kids and their involvement in social media. Empower them to be self-protective. Don’t underestimate the compelling seduction of evil.
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