There are just too many dangers lurking online for parents not to take an active role in managing their children’s Internet activities. The news is full of incidents of cyberbullying, cyberstalking, identity theft and other threats. Other, less immediate, but nonetheless important concerns also exist for children who use the Internet.
It’s becoming more and more common for employers and even college admissions boards to scrutinize an applicant’s online profile - or “digital footprint” - before hiring or accepting, and both parents and children need to be aware of possible consequences of content shared or posted online.
Avoiding Stalkers and Bullies
One rule of thumb, especially for kids using social networks and gaming platforms is to choose an anonymous, genderless screen name. It’s also crucial to avoid flirting online - especially with strangers. The same goes for flaming and responding to trolls - maintaining a low and neutral profile is the best way to avoid trouble. If someone is harassing you online, don’t fight back. It’s far better to just block them or report them.
Children should be especially careful about revealing their ages, gender and especially their whereabouts to anyone they don’t know. Sexual predators often pose as children themselves to get closer to potential victims.
Strategies for Parents
Parents should insist on being a part of their child’s online world. Being “friends” on their social networks and keeping a close eye on where and how they spend their Internet time is crucial. Parents should not only be on guard against their children becoming the victims of bullying, they should make sure their kids aren’t engaged in bullying themselves. Teens often seem unaware what kind of damage teasing or name-calling can cause, and just passing along rumors or sharing bullying can be devastating to other children, whether or not your child is the instigator.
The bottom line is involvement and active monitoring of a child’s online activities. One of the tools parents are turning to to keep their children safe is mobile monitoring software, such as the apps on the market developed by mSpy and other companies. These apps can be secretly installed on a child’s smartphone. Or, if parents prefer, they can let the child know that their activity is being monitored. Either way, spy phone apps are probably the only way you’ll be able to view everything your child is engaged in online, and for many parents this technology has become essential.