For eight years now, I have been involved in searching for missing and abducted children and have been an advocate for child safety. Parents are scared every time they see a news story about yet another abducted or missing child.
“What if that were my child?” “What would I do if I were that child’s parent?” “Why didn’t that child’s parents do more to keep their child safe?” “How can I keep this from happening to my child?”
Those are just a few of the questions that go through any parents mind when they hear about a child becoming the victim of a child sex predator or just any child that is missing without a clue. In some of these stories, the child or teenager first met someone online, then began to trust that person, then met them offline and disappeared.
When talking about Internet Safety, that is of course the worst case scenario. Other issues involve not wanting your child to be exposed to pornography, not wanting to have your child exposed to people who will make sexual advances to them online, and not wanting your child to do anything that might put them or even you at risk.
It is a very real problem that all parents need to address. Ignore what your children and teenagers do online at your own peril. If they are more computer literate than you are, it makes it even more difficult to know how to monitor their online activities. In addition to that, you feel as a parent you shouldn’t be “snooping” on them.
Your children can benefit greatly by being allowed to use the Internet. These days they can learn more online than they ever will in just school alone. They need both, so you have to find a way to balance the need for your children to go online with making sure they are safe online.
Fortunately there are programs available that can help you achieve that balance. The first thing you need to do is make sure your child knows about safety. In the footer of this article will be a link to the Kidsearch Network Website and to RunawayTeens.org where you will find the information they need to learn and what you as a parent need to know. There is even tools you can use to test your child to see how much they have learned.
The second step is to get a program like Online Safety Shield. Whether you tell your children or teenager it is there or not, the program will monitor everything that is done on each computer you install it on. It will allow you to flag certain keywords that you are concerned about your child encountering or that will associate with websites that are on that topic.
It will even take screen captures that allow you to see later which websites your child visited that contained that type of content. It does a lot more, but it’s best if you take a look at it for yourself. Just go to this website, http://www.onlinesafetyshield.com to see which version is right for you.
The bottom line is that Internet Safety is something that every parent has to be concerned about. Your children need to be able to make use of this great tool for learning, however you need to have some peace of mind that they are using it wisely. Learn more. Teach more. Be an “involved” parent. Your child’s life may depend on it.