Face it. Your kids are online a lot, a whole lot. They are being educated and entertained online. A 2012 Pew study found that more than 95 percent of teens use the Internet and nearly half own a smartphone regularly to find information online.
But they are still kids and not aware of the hidden hazards online. As a parent, you owe it to them to tell them the facts about online safety.
Tell them this:
Never upload or post images of themselves onto the internet or send them to people they do not know. More than nine out of ten youth have posted a photo of themselves, according to a 2013 Pew Research Center survey.
Never arrange a face-to-face meeting with someone they meet online.
Never give out identifying information about themselves such as name, address, school or phone number. Sites that collect information from children under age 13 must post a privacy notice. If they do then you, as their parent, have the right to review it and direct that any information collected not be released to third parties.
Never download pictures from an unknown source.
Never respond to messages or postings that are obscene, sexual, belligerent or harassing.
It is illegal for an adult stranger to send online sexually explicit or obscene material to a child in an effort to seduce the child or to arrange an in-person meeting with the child. In one survey, more than 60 percent of teenagers ages 13 to 17 had posted personal profiles on social media pages. Nearly one in three had considered meeting their new online friends in person, and one in seven had already done so.
Tell your children about identity theft.
Advise your children about the long term consequences of sexting. While sending a sexually explicit image or message to a friend via a mobile phone seems like an impulsive lark it can have unintended serious consequences. These images can easily be posted on hundreds or even thousands of sites resulting in exposure to anyone on the internet. Such exposure can result in embarrassment and humiliation or used to bully or harass.
It is illegal for minors, as well as adults, to possess or distribute child pornography. If such sexting resulted in a 14-year-old child’s conviction of a pornography offense, he or she could be branded a sex offender and have to register as such.
Warn your child of the possibly devastating results of cyberbullying. When a child uses a mobile phone, computer, tablet or other electronic communications device to taunt, harass, torment, humiliate or threaten. A cyberbully might post humiliating or embarrassing photos online. Cyberbullying has believed to have resulted in the suicide of several victims. A 2011 survey of high school students showed one in six were cyberbullied in the previous year.
California law prohibits the use of phones or other electronic communications devices to intentionally annoy someone with repeated calls or electronic contacts, obscene language or threats. As well, youth, parents and schools have been sued in cyberbullying cases.
If you talk to your child about the above points it will help your child avoid problems on the internet. Keep the computer in an area of the house that is open and public. Use the computer with your children and show them how to navigate safely online. Know your child’s passwords and monitor their online activity.
Nationwide Legal Investigations deal with online/internet/cyberdata issues on a daily basis. If you know or suspect your child is involved in any of the activities discussed above, it is wise to have our firm conduct an investigation and assist you in resolving any problems. Often, if you catch the problem early you can deal with it informally, have the activity halted and any disparaging information removed before it is widely disbursed. Private Investigators offer a huge service to many individuals and businesses in the area of cyber data and internet investigations. Our firm has more than 30 years of experience, reasonably priced, and always within the bounds of applicable law.