Protecting Your Family from Online Predators

You, or your children, can easily become the target of online predators, who may try to exploit you financially or involve you in inappropriate relationships. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to identify online predators, as they often behave in a predictable fashion.

Predators will usually try to steer conversations towards inappropriate areas and may express an undue level of interest and affection towards their targets. They may offer gifts, or make other tempting offers, which should be treated with suspicion. If you recognise such behaviour you should be aware that you may be communicating with a predator.

Children should be taught to discourage online predators by using neutral screen names that do not reveal their real name, age, gender or contact information.  Some web sites may try to obtain personal information by claiming it is needed for feedback or survey purposes – children should be warned not to reveal such information without permission and to avoid giving out personal details, such as their real name, address and phone number. This applies equally to social networking sites, blog posts or comments and IM conversations.

Children should be told not to share their username and password with anyone else, even their best friends. They should also told to leave any web site that makes them feel uncomfortable, contains unpleasant content or asks for excessive personal information.

Parents can use monitoring software, sometimes called parental control software, to prevent young children from visiting inappropriate web sites or sites that may bring them into contact with online predators. They should check regularly to see what their children are doing online. Most browsers have settings that allow parents to control the type of Web sites that children can visit and block sites with adult content.

This short YouTube video gives one parent’s views on a specific monitoring package, PC Tattletale.

Next: Protecting People Quiz