Chat rooms or games that allow “chatting” (electronic communication) between participants can be dangerous for children. Often times, sexual offenders will pose as children and so they can initiate a relationship with a child on-line and they go where your children go. In some cases, they first build a trusted relationship with a child and then tell them they are older but to keep it a secret from their parents. In other cases, sexual offenders continue to pose as a child and try to meet the child in a specific location. When the child learns of the offender’s true identity…it may be too late. Some Chat rooms are even more problematic because they not only provide a place for bad people to communicate with your child; they can also provide concealment from others by allowing private conversations and alerting offenders when others enter the same chat room.
- Ask yourself…is allowing my child “Internet access” truly necessary? Denying children, especially younger children, unsupervised Internet access is a safe decision.
- If your child does need access for school reports, etc., ensure they do it under direct adult supervision.
- Ensure computers with Internet access are placed in open areas of the home in full and plain view of other family members; this will discourage “secret” conversations or the viewing of questionable material by a child.
- Never allow your child to give out personal information such as their name, home address, school name, or telephone number to persons they meet on-line. Ensure if they “meet a friend” on-line, that you as the parent are aware of the friend and review the conversations.
- Never allow your child to send a picture of themselves to someone they met while on-line.
- Encourage your child to tell you immediately if they ever encountered a person or a situation that made them feel uncomfortable or scared.
- Never allow them to meet with someone they met online.