What goes on in the home life of a 14-year-old girl such that she feels there's nothing better to do than send nude photos of herself to a man whom she's been corresponding with online? Though this goes well-beyond the parents not bothering to find out what their kids do online, another huge issue is the proliferation of online predators.
And for parents who DO care enough to monitor their kids' cyber activities, here's some unsettling news: A 2013 survey called Digital Deception: Exploring the Online Disconnect between Parents and Kids revealed that 69 percent of the young respondents reported they knew how to conceal their online activities from their parents. The study also showed that 80 percent of the parent-respondents said they wouldn't even know how to figure out what their kids' online activities were. Conclusion: Parents are clueless.
This makes it easier for predators to find victims. There's the case of a girl who, at age 13, sent an image of herself to a 26 year old man who for the next five years cyber-harassed her, demanding more images. The girl was driven to two suicide attempts and finally alerted authorities who found him.
Another predator tricked a 15-year-old into sending him photos who turned out to be a 50 year old man. They do this by sending photos of younger cuter boys around the same age as their victim females. Parent need to have ongoing dialog with their kids that this is going on everyday somewhere and "it can happen to you too"
These act can often be prevented which once again, brings to mind what kind of parenting or lack of parenting is going on. Though parents can't monitor their kids' activities every second, something has to be said about why a young person's life would be so empty that they end up sending out nude photos of themselves-even if the victim thinks the recipient is the same age!
What Parents Should Do
- Educate kids about online predators
- Educate yourself about online predators
- Warn kids about never sending images into cyber space
- Make sure kids understand that they will never be shamed for reporting a perilous situation
- Tell kids that no matter how aggressive or threatening a cyber predator seems to be, they ultimately don't have that much power; they're ground meat once the authorities find them.
- The less time kids spend tinkering around on the Internet, the less likely they'll meet up with a predator. Get your kids involved in confidence-building activities that develop independent thinking skills and assertiveness.