Make New Friends but keep the Old. One is Silver and the other’s … a trafficker
These days, there cannot be enough stress on the importance of understanding the internet and social media. It is an incredibly useful tool to expand business, spread a cause, and just meet new people. But when your children are cruising the web, are you making sure they are safe? Many times, adults are unaware of how dangerous the WORLD WIDE WEB can be. It is global, and anyone can find anything, at any time. An article published this week on CNN Money brings to light just how dangerous sites like Facebook can be for young women.
Sex trafficking has become a hot topic issue, and while many see this as a foreign and far away problem- it happens here-every day. The common age young girls (and boys) used to be recruited was about 14. This has now changed to 11-12 years old. So how are they getting our children? Social media is one of the easiest ways to begin the process of recruitment. Facebook is one site where you are required to be at least 14 to have an account, yet a majority of 4th and 5th graders have created accounts with false ages and often leave the account privacy settings open for anyone to view.
So what can you do? If your child does have a Facebook account, help them make it private so only friends are able to see the information and pictures. This can be done by clicking in the top right corner under “settings.” Talk to your children about who they become friends with online. If they do not know someone in “real” life, then they do not need to accept or issue a friend request. We teach them to say no to strangers on the street, so why not teach them to say no to strangers online? Many elementary and middle school aged kids are playing games on Xbox and Play Station. This means they interact with all kinds of people from all over the world. Playing a video game is one thing, but giving your personal information is another. Many times, young kids feel that because they are playing a game with a stranger, they are becoming friends. This can lead to trouble and it is important to not only discuss, but monitor the online activity of your children.
An open dialogue is essential to help keep our children safe from predators. You will never be able to completely stop them from going online, but you can help to teach them how to stay safe.