During our everyday life, we concern ourselves mainly with home security enabling the security alarm, locking the door when we leave, etc. However, theres another menace out there that is creeping through our society. This menace is Cyberstalking, the exploiting of our children through the Internet.
In my professional role in the Home Security Industry, I preach the values of the Internet, not only for us as adults and professionals, but also for our children. Our children have almost immediate access to any kind of information available throughout the world. Want to read A Tale Of Two Cities? Its on the Internet. Have a question about who the third person to land on the moon was? Its on the Internet. However, want to be exposed to nudity, pedophiles, and thousands (if not millions) of other social deviants? You bet its on the Internet and just a key touch away from your child or grandchild. So, what do we do about this?
First, we educate ourselves. Go to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website at www.ncmec.org and download their study Online Victimization – A Report on the Nations Youth. This report will provide an eye-opening look at the perils our children are under every time they access America Online, Compuserve, or the Internet via the local Internet Service Provider. It also provides a telling survey on how parents deal with their childrens use of the Internet. For example, over 85% of parents have talked with their children about being careful talking to strangers on the Net, and 97% of those polled check every now and then on what is on their childs computer screen. But, only half the parents ever go back and actually check history to ensure the child is indeed staying out of potential problem sites, and only 39% set a limit on the amount of time their child can be on the Internet. Though it appears that parents do realize the potential exposure their children have on the Net, less than 12 play a truly diligent role in ensuring their child is protected.
Second, we educate others. Gather information from such sites as The National Center and tens of other child advocacy sites (including www.pta.org), and speak to your fellow parents in your school system about the dangers presented to our children on the Internet. Stay tuned for future articles on ways to prevent your children from being exposed to unsuitable material. Bottom line: be involved with your childs Internet experience. They now have the world, literally, at their fingertips. Make the effort to have it at yours also. Part 2 explains the warning signs that your child is having a bad experience online.