Sunday, February 24, 2013

Why You Should Talk To Your Kids' Friends' Parents' About Internet Safety

Nearly every child in America is familiar with the Internet. And because children of today have grown up in a world with technology at their fingertips, most are savvy when it comes to using the Internet. In fact, most kids of today are better skilled with computers than their parents and their teachers. This is a good thing, but at the same time, it means parents have to be extra cautious about what kids are doing online.

The Internet can be a very dangerous place, especially for those without a lot of life experiences – those that are naive in some ways. Although today’s youth may begin using the Internet at a very young age, they still have not experienced enough of life to always understand that they are vulnerable targets to certain types of predators.

Online Safety

Most parents take the time to instruct their children from an early age about online etiquette and safety – the dos and don’ts of where they can and cannot visit and who it is safe to talk to. But as children age, they tend to find websites that offer new entertainment factors. From sites that offer nothing but games or videos to chat lines and forums intended for older audiences, kids can find websites that entertain in a way that is inappropriate for younger age groups.

The problem is not so much that the entertainment is inappropriate; much more worrisome are the sinister characters that are often lurking in these places, waiting to prey on unsuspecting victims. Wise parents know it is okay to visit the computer history tab and to even use parental locks to keep children safe while online.

Many parents go as far as to keep laptops and computers in central locations. This makes it easy to look over the user’s shoulders to see what sites are being visited. But what happens when kids visit friends? Unfortunately, this is often the time when kids take advantage of a parent being gone or when a parent is inattentive to what sites are being visited online.

Reasons to Talk to Kids’ Friends’ Parents About Internet Safety

Kids will be kids, and when given the opportunity, they are likely to take advantage of it. This is only natural. And this is the main reason many wise parents decide to talk to their kids’ friends’ parents about Internet safety.
It gives them a chance to find out if the same Internet safety guidelines and practices are followed in the friend’s home. If nothing else, the conversation can provide a certain level of peace of mind. Ideas and stories can be shared.
Because the real issue is the online safety of children, everyone is on board with the topic. Below are the top three reasons for having the discussion in the first place:
  1. Children that use the Internet may be exposed to cyber bullying
  2. Children that use the Internet may be exposed to pornography
  3. Children that use the Internet may be exposed to child predators
About Cyber Bullying:

Cyber bullying refers to incidences when kids, including teens, are harassed, threatened, or tormented in some way through the use of the Internet or other digital technology.

About Pornography:

The Internet makes it possible for kids to accidentally or purposely view pornographic material.

About Child Predators:

One of the things that make the Internet so wonderful is that people can remain anonymous, but this is also what can make the Internet such a dangerous place. Kids and teens don’t always know who they are interacting with. The Internet is a playground for pedophiles and other sexual predators.
Another important reason to talk to your kids’ friends’ parents about Internet safety is related to identity theft and personal safety. This is a very real concept in today’s world. Caution should be used when entering information online. This includes giving out phone numbers and addresses.

The Internet is a wonderful learning resource. Kids should be introduced to technology at a very early age, and parents should encourage a continued interest. But parents will have to do their part to ensure kids are safe while online.

Contributor:  Debbie Allen is a freelance writer who writes about a wide variety of topics such as how to choose the best gutter style for your home and parenting issues.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Do You Know Who Your Teen Is Chatting With Online? The Catfish Scam

This is not just about teens and kids; adults and parents can be lured by deceptive people digitally.

The sad tale of Manti Te’o and his fraudulent girlfriend has brought a problem with online dating to light: the risk of catching a catfish. “Catfish” is the term used to describe a person who poses as someone they’re not in order to establish a relationship with an unsuspecting online dater.

These scams can be carried out for financial gain, or simply to fulfill a need for acceptance and love that the catfish isn’t feeling in their actual lives. Whatever the motive, perpetrating such a ruse can have heartbreaking effects on the targeted party.

If you’re in an online relationship or considering one, here are 10 ways to guard yourself against a catfish scam.
  1. Web Search – Some people hesitate to “Google” their new online sweetheart for fear of invading their privacy. The truth is, a quick web search may turn up a few pieces of information that confirm your significant other’s identity. You don’t have to pry or dig into personal backgrounds with in-depth reports. Just run a quick search and see what comes up.
  2. Insist on Webcam Chats – When someone you’re dating online dodges webchats for an extended period of time, it’s often an indicator that she isn’t who she claims to be. It’s understandable to be hesitant about webchatting in the earliest stages of a relationship, but it’s a bit fishy when she’s professing her undying love but still dodging the camera.
  3. Read Between the Lines – It’s easy to miss signs that are literally right before your eyes when you’re swept up in the excitement of a new romance. Before you get too emotionally invested, make a habit of reading between the lines of what he says and listening to what he doesn’t say. Fabricating an entirely new personality isn’t easy and you may be able to pick up on some subtle warning signs.
  4. Their Facebook Wall – Creating a fake Facebook profile is easy, but making it look genuine is not. When you scan your new sweetie’s Timeline, look at the things posted there. A plethora of games and app requests combined with a dearth of personal postings may be a red flag that the person you’re dating doesn’t actually exist. Think about the things that your own friends and family members post on your wall; if they’re missing from his, it may be because the fictitious character you’re chatting with has no friends or family.
  5. Critical Thinking – When emotion takes over, it’s difficult to think about things objectively and use your own common sense regarding the situation. In many cases, however, an entire false relationship could have been avoided with a bit of old-fashioned critical thinking. If something doesn’t seem to add up, it’s usually because there are holes in the story.
  6. Trust Your Instincts – Your own instincts are a powerful detection tool, but they may be hard to follow when you’re focused solely on your emotions. Having a hunch that all is not what it seems or a nagging feeling that something is off with your new relationship is a sure sign that you should dig a bit deeper before investing further.
  7. Look for Photo Tags – Group photos posted on Facebook or other social networking sites that include your honey, but have none of the other members tagged, can be a sign of a stolen picture. To realistically fake a fully-tagged group shot, a catfish would have to create and maintain that many fraudulent accounts. In the end, even the most dedicated sweetheart scammers probably won’t have that kind of time on their hands.
  8. Use Dating Sites With Verification Services – To help stem the tide of con-artist heartthrobs, some online dating sites are offering verification services that ensure an account holder is who they claim to be. Using these sites to meet someone allows you an extra layer of security against catfish scams.
  9. Be Wary of Elaborate Excuses – Car trouble or bad weather are par for the course in anyone’s life, but if your online girlfriend keeps putting off meetings or webchats because she’s been in a coma-inducing car accident before being sucked into a tornado and swallowed by a tsunami, there’s a good chance there’s a bit of dishonesty going on. Elaborate, over-the-top tales of woe are a trademark move of relationship scammers and can be a very reliable indicator that you’re not talking to the person who you think.
  10. Pay Attention to Detail – Keeping track of all the many details that are necessary to convincingly fake an entire personality and life history is amazingly difficult. Simply keeping an eye out for details that don’t add up or stories that don’t fit into a proper timeline can give you all the evidence you need of an Internet sweetheart that’s not shooting straight.
In the interest of protecting your assets, it’s wise never to send money to someone you’re dating online and have never met in person. Online dating is a legitimate way of meeting and establishing relationships with open and honest people, but there is a slight chance that you’ll come across a huckster or two before you meet your intended.

Source: Longhorn Leads

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Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sexual Predators: Ways They Seek Kids Online

With many parents online shopping it also means more adults with not the same motives will be online also.  Do your kids practice online safety measures?

Children today are growing up with the Internet as a regular part of life, yet the World-Wide-Web was fairly new when their parents were young. Along with all the fun and informative things available to children online, a serious danger also lurks. Internet predators like to use the anonymity of the Internet, and are constantly on the lookout for innocent victims.

It’s important for parents to be aware of the ways sexual predators troll for kids online.

Here are 10 things to watch out for to keep your kids safe on the Internet.
  1. Online games – One place Internet predators connect with kids is online games. They will choose games that are popular with the age group they prefer and pose as other kids to foster a friendship with children. Predators will watch for gamer names that indicate the gender, location or other information that is useful to them.
  2. Chat rooms – Sexual predators will pose as kids in chat rooms that are popular with children. This is an easy way for them to garner information and target unsuspecting youngsters. Once they gain a child’s trust, they may try setting up a meeting in person.
  3. Facebook – Parents need to be very careful about whether or not they allow their children to have their own personal Facebook accounts. This is prime hunting grounds for Internet stalkers who target kids. It’s very easy for them to set up fake Facebook pages and “friend” teens and preteens.
  4. Twitter – Social media is a great way for pedophiles to connect with their victims, and Twitter is no exception. Many young people use tweeting as their primary form of communication, and predators know this and go where the kids are.
  5. Websites for kids – Parents may think websites like Disney and PBS Kids are safe for their children to frequent, but predators like to frequent them too. What better place is there to find lonely kids who want to chat?
  6. Instant messaging – Since emails will linger in an account until they’re deleted, Internet predators prefer to use instant messaging that disappears once the window is closed. This makes it harder for parents to monitor who’s talking to their kids and what they’re saying.
  7. MySpace – Some consider MySpace one of the worst sites for online predators who want to connect with children. The online surveys are fun to fill out, but they also provide lots of information that can be used to gain trust with unsuspecting youngsters.
  8. Pictures – Parents need to educate their children on how pictures posted online can be used by sexual predators. It helps them to identify kids who fit their personal preferences, and any picture posted online can be used and manipulated by anyone. Child pornographers are constantly monitoring the Internet for potentially suggestive photos of children.
  9. Target the vulnerable – Internet predators are constantly on the lookout for vulnerable children that they can exploit. Kids that are lonely, unhappy, who are having difficulty with school, or who have poor relationships with their parents are easy targets. They also like kids who are willing to keep secrets from their parents or other authorities.
  10. Use coded language – The shortcut language that kids use for texting makes it harder for parents to readily understand what they’re saying. Just glancing over their child’s shoulder, a text message can look like gobbledygook, so parents need to learn this coded language to help keep their kids safe. You better believe the Internet predators know exactly what texting shortcuts mean and how to use it to gain a child’s trust.
Being aware of the inherit risks that the Internet poses to innocent children is the first step parents who want to keep their children safe need to take. Parents need to educate themselves and their children about the dangers of Internet predators as they teach them how to use the Web.
Establish rules and guidelines for computer and cell phone use, and keep the computer in a common area easily observable by parents and siblings. Use online tools for privacy settings and set up parental alerts. Parental involvement is the key to protecting your children from online sexual predators.

Source: Nanny News Network

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