The Internet is a wonderful tool which has brought a world of knowledge into our homes. Children have more research resources in their own home today than we had at our public libraries when we went to school. Whole large city libraries, museums and even full texts from many of the greatest writings of all time stream into our houses with ease.
Unfortunately, along with the classic artists, great writers and elite professors, there is also a dark element that thrives online – of which, cyberbullying and predators are just a few examples. However, the solution can also be found in the source of the problem. The greatest benefit the Internet offers is knowledge, and that knowledge can be used to protect our children from evil. It is our goal to give parents the information they need in order to combat these threats and to ensure their children’s safety on the internet.
Online threats can be divided into 5 categories – predators, cyber-bullying, identity theft, malicious code and inappropriate content.
Predators are every parent’s worst nightmare. We read in the newspapers, and watch it on the evening news the horrific results when a predator is successful in preying on children. There are even whole television programs dedicated to highlighting and capturing their activities. They come in all ages, sexes and socially economic backgrounds. Many of them have perfected their techniques using deception, psychology and the trusting and curious nature of children. As a parent you need to know how they operate, the signs that your child may have been approached, and the steps you can take to prevent your child becoming a victim.
Federal Authorities believe that 500,000-750,000 predators are on-line on a daily basis
Many parents don’t think of cyber bullying when they consider the risks to their children online. However, the risks from internet bullying can be every bit as devastating as exposure to predators, with children experiencing depression, alienation, a decline in grades and in the most extreme cases children have committed suicide as a result of online bullying. Some experts believe that the results of cyber bullying may be more destructive and harmful than regular bullying as the bully does not see the results of there actions and consequently are more viscous than they would be in person. Parents need to know the warning signs that their children are being bullied and the steps to correct the problem. 40% of parents installed Monitoring Software, Filtering Software, or instituted a blocking program after episodes of bullying.
A 2005 study showed that 9%, nearly 1 in 10 youths on the internet had been harassed within the past years.
Parents constantly are warned about the potential for identity theft through there actions, and are often very cautious about there online activities. Often it doesn’t occur to them that their child’s online act ivies can result in the parents financial information being exposed to online criminals. There is also a growing threat to child identity theft especially with teenagers that are nearing their college years, when they are constantly bombarded with credit card offers. Educating your children in this area is critical to protecting your children and your own financial futures. Knowing the steps to make sure you are not the victim of identity theft and to also immediate address the problem should this occur are also necessary.
According to the U.S. Postal Service , in 2004 there were almost ten million incidents of identity theft in the United States.
Malicious Code itself can be broken down into four categories – spyware, worms viruses and trojan horses. The thing that all of these have in common is that the are unwarranted intrusions on your computer that can have devastating effects on the files, the computer itself, or on yours and children’s privacy. Parents need to become familiar with the types of malicious code, how to recognize the threats, how to prevent them, and how to eliminate them.
68 percent of home Internet users, or about 93 million American adults, have experienced at least one computer problem related to malicious code, adware, or spyware in the last year
The viewing of inappropriate content is probably the second most publicized threat to children from the internet. There are constantly news reports about pornographic materials being access by children and internet porn. There are explicit chat rooms, and dangerous instructional guides ( a research of “bomb making instructions” in Google returns 41,200 results) . Parents need to know about these sites and educate their children about the dangers of these areas. Parents also need to know about the more proactive solutions available such as filtering software, and whether they are viable solutions in their instances.
34% of youths reported unwanted exposure to sexual materials