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Internet Safety


Internet Predator Chat Nightmares

It is easy to think of pedophiles loitering in playgrounds and other places children play but because of the way the Internet works, children can easily be interacting on their home computers with predators posing as children. Internet users enjoy anonymity and that is something that predators crave. A child does not always know who they are chatting with and that is why Internet chat can be so dangerous.

Internet chat rooms are not a safe place for an unprotected child to be. The Internet is full of online predators grooming children in Internet chat rooms or social networks like myspace.com. The kids need to be protected on the Internet just like they are protected in real life. Imagine watching a scenario like this; there is a dirty old man behind the bushes trying to get a child to come into the bushes with him by pretending that he is the same age and that he is good friend. But we know better. We know we have to stop him from going into the bushes because we know that if he goes in there, he will probably never be seen again. We feel powerless to help. It's like being stuck in a nightmare isn't it?

In reality we are not powerless to help. The dirty old man represents the Internet predators that hang in online chat rooms or Instant Messaging program chats and social networks. There are many forms of chat programs. There is the Facebook chat, AOL Messenger, MSN Messenger, ICQ, Yahoo Chat, just to name a few. Of course, the social network sites like MySpace and Facebook offer the Internet Predators a glimpse inside the life of a child making those sites particularly dangerous. There are Internet use monitoring programs available that will exclusively monitor MySpace activity. There are many more questionable online chat sites out there that would not be the safest place for a child on the Internet. Do you know who your kids are chatting to when they are online?

Instant Messaging in general is not a bad thing. Kids and adults alike have instant access to all of their friends and coworkers that are online. Any number of things could happen that could turn IM into a nightmare. A person can get addicted or infatuated with it and spend all of their time, your time if you are an employer, chatting with people all over the world. The worst thing that could happen is that a child gets involved with someone who they think is their friend and starts violating every rule that there is in the Internet Safety Contract. There is a very interesting scenario you can read here and I received an email a while back that is a real thought provoker if you want to take a look at it you could read it here. This is where the trouble starts, real trouble. Your child could be thinking that they are chatting with a friend that is their own age but in reality they could be chatting with a 50 year old man that just wants to find out where they live so that he can come and abduct them. You need to keep your kids safe on the Internet.

Check out the News Page for some recent nightmare stories. Internet chat nightmares seem to happen almost daily.

There are too many Internet predators prowling around masquerading as teenagers to trust your children to be alone in a chat room. The best thing to do to protect your children is to get the computer out of their bedroom. It should be kept in an area where their activity can be monitored. Just remember that there are certain places where kids should not be unsupervised; bars, nightclubs, construction zones, the middle of a busy superhighway and the middle of the busy Internet. Keep your kids safe on the Internet, don' t let the Internet become a nightmare.

Here are some basic rules that everybody should use while chatting on the internet:

1. Never give out your last name

2. Never put your age as part of your nick e.g. Sameer14

3. Never give away your address, not even the town where you live

4. Never give anyone your phone number or agree to phone them

5. Be very careful of people who ask you your age just after you’ve met them

6. Don’t accept files from people who you don’t know

7. Don’t give your picture to people who you don’t know

8. Never agree to meet anyone you’ve met on chat unless you go with an adult you trust like your mom or dad

9. If anyone makes you feel scared tell one of the ops - the guys with the @ in front of their nicksname, or may be the moderator.

The solution, which can't be stressed enough, is to spend time with your child. Make sure they know how important it is to not give out any personal information while they are in an online chat. Also, you really need to know what they are doing on the Internet at all times. Keep the computer in the dining room or living room, someplace where you can see what they are doing. If you don't like how it looks, then dress it it up with a nice screensaver. Check on them while they are chatting and ask them who is on their "buddy" list. If they don't know or won't tell you then there may be a problem. If knowing what they are doing all the time isn't possible for some reason then you may need a Chat monitoring program to help.

After you have found a way to monitor the chat, you may find another nightmare. You won't be able to understand what they are chatting. They type in another language it seems. Everything is like a code or abbreviated. I have created a Chat Dictionary and a list of some of the more commonly used Emoticons to aid you in deciphering this new language.

If, after you have installed one of the computer monitoring programs, you find that your child is a victim of some sort of child sexual exploitation, you can file a report at the The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children Lets all help keep the kids safe on the Internet.

Computer filtering and monitoring programs offer a lot useful assistance to parents who simply cannot always be there watching what their children are doing. But a monitoring program is just a tool. It is not a babysitter, and it is also very important that parents realize that NONE of the programs are foolproof. They are no substitute for active and concerned parental involvement in your child's online activities. One way or another you just have to know what is happening on the computer to keep your kids safe on the Internet. The consequence of not knowing may be your worst nightmare coming true.

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