As a parent, you're probably strict about things like who your child socializes with and how much TV they watch. Unfortunately, we sometimes overlook the dangers that lurk on the internet. The fact is that one in every seven youth have received unwanted sexual solicitations online. Traditional parental controls can reduce this likelihood, but they're not perfect. That's why you should know these tips to help protect your children from online predators.
1. Utilize Phone Tracking Apps
Several technologies have come along due to the evolving threat of online predators. Some of the most impressive are phone tracking apps. There are several out there that will allow you to track your child via GPS with Find My Friends as a favorite. The app mSpy has also taken a top spot among these apps.
In addition to being able to track your child's phone if an emergency arises, you can also view the phone logs, texts, contacts and apps. This gives you the ability to keep tabs on who your child is talking to, and if a scary scenario arises where you can't find your child, the GPS tracker will step in.
2. Keep Track of Social Media Posts
While children might not like the idea of being "friends" with their parents on social media, it's absolutely essential for keeping them safe. Unlike Android or iPad parental controls, this allows you to actively engage in keeping watch over your child.
The sad fact is that online predators look for youth who post sexually provocative videos and images online. When a parent is following their child's social media accounts, they can take note of these posts if they happen. Parents should also ensure that these profiles are private.
In the end, this bit of "helicopter parenting" could help keep your son or daughter completely off a predator's radar.
3. Have a Heart-to-Heart
While remaining constantly vigilant and monitoring your child's online activity is essential, it's also important to speak with them about the dangers of online predators. Parental controls on a router can go a long way, but today's youth need to understand how these predators work.
As it turns out, online victims aren't typically blindsided by predators. In most cases where a child or teen suffered sexual abuse initiated by an online encounter, they willingly met the predator on their own accord.
Even scarier is the fact that only 5 percent of online sexual predators lie about their age. This makes it quite obvious that you need to sit down with your children and let them know how manipulative these deviants can be.
4. Install a Parental Controls Router
Many parental controls only allow for the blocking of sites that parents don't want their children visiting. As technology has evolved, though, so have the devices that allow you to control the environment on the internet for your children’s protection.
The Router Limits Mini, for instance, shows just how far the tools for protecting your children from online predators have come. It plugs into any existing Wi-Fi router, and once installed, you can block specific sites on individual devices.
On top of this device-specific blocking, you can "pause" the internet and view browsing history by device. If you use the Router Limits Everywhere feature, you can also see what your child is doing on their devices regardless of which network or data they're using. Finally, the same tool can automatically turn off the internet during specified hours. This is essential since studies have shown that online predators are most active during evening hours.
5. Turn Off Geotagging
Some social media sites automatically tag your child's location when they post to the platform. Unfortunately, sexual predators use these "geotags" to track down victims. You should check the FAQ sections of your child's favorite social media sites and learn how to turn off this feature - even if your child turned it on themselves.
Parental controls won't always be enough, but by being proactive, you can reduce the likelihood that your child will be exposed to dangers on the internet. Scarily, experts believe that there are more than 500,000 pedophiles lurking online on any given day. The dangers your child faces have certainly changed over time, but your responsibility to do everything in your power to protect them from these dangers has not.