FACEBOOK, Instagram, Snapchat and WeChat. These are just a few social media sites that are a playground for our young ones. It’s not surprising that many are spending more time online instead of watching television or playing outside.
Interacting online comes with risks and challenges. Among the more common ones are bad language, explicit content, violence and even bullying.
In addition, there are also information security threats where hackers, spammers and scammers are just waiting for the right moment to hit on unsuspecting children. As if these are not enough, many children also face cyber bullying, hatred and even racism online.
But perhaps the most worrying and damaging of all are the sexual threats.
In this digital age, our children are exposed to all kinds of movies, songs, images, videos and culture that trigger their curiosity or give them the wrong understanding about sex and sexual activities. Through messaging apps or online chatrooms, children are also exposed to “sexting” or to strangers who may be sexual predators.
These are very real issues that many parents are still struggling to overcome. It was reported that WeChat is a favourite app for sexual predators. This is because it’s easy to access and very little restrictions are in place to protect children.
Almost anyone can connect with him or her and it doesn’t take long before a predator comes a-knocking.
Despite not meeting, many predators have successfully made their victims perform acts they regret and which may land them in trouble later on.
As parents, we cannot completely cut our children off from technology. But what we can do is guide and teach them how to stay protected in the digital sphere.
It’s also important that we explain to them why we are setting these limits so that they know we’re doing it out of concern for their safety.
As parents, we need to be aware of tell-tale signs that our children might be in contact with a sexual predator.
For instance, if your child is extra private about the messages on his or her phone, or is secretive about meeting up with a friend, you may need to talk to him or her about this.
Trust is extremely important in this matter and it helps to be aware of your child’s circle of friends.
There are also various apps and tools that you can use to limit how much your child is exposed to.
However, nothing is more effective than talking to your children and setting healthy boundaries for them.
We need to equip them with the skills and wisdom to make the right decisions when interacting online.
At the end of the day, both parents and children need to remember that common sense is king. Don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t normally do offline. This simple rule goes a long way towards making children’s online presence a little safer.