Are Your Children In Danger? Read This If You Want To Keep Them Safe.

Warning! Are Your Children In Danger?  Read This If You Want To Keep Them Safe.

Imagine the scene. It is a miserable day outside. Rain streams down the windows. The clouds hang in the sky making everything a little bit darker and colder. You know the feeling, don’t you?

Schools are still not open meaning your kids are home during the day. The ding of the emails hitting your inbox puts your nerves on edge. You know you should be working, but how do you prioritise your time between work and your children?

This was me last week. I needed to be on a zoom call and keep the kids occupied. Mission impossible right?

It is all too easy to let the kids have an extra hour or two on their devices isn’t it?

Parents are struggling to juggle work, family and social demands there is no time plan. It is impossible to supervise everything and everyone. Time, when you are a parent, is your most precious commodity.

But there are people out there who are counting on this happening. People who have the time you don’t. People who can give your kids the attention we can’t.

Their aim is to contact your child. Gain their trust. Their aim is to groom our children. As a parent it is my worst nightmare and I am sure it is your too isn’t it?

Online abusers have what you don’t. They have time and they use it to plan. They want what you have… your children.

In this article we will explore

  1. The methods used by child abusers to target our children.
  2. Steps parents can take to protect their children online
  3. Different solutions that can help you
  4. Direct you to other useful resources.

Methods used by child abusers to target our children

This problem is not restricted to any age groups, sex, geography or social class. Online abuse can come in many forms. From bullying to sexual grooming.

Their plan usually follows a pattern

  1. Create a false account often imitating the type of children they wish to abuse.
  2. They then target as many children as they can with an invitation from a false account, and see who accepts
  3. Start a conversation on the platform they met your child on.
  4. Move the conversation to a private messaging platform that you know nothing about.

The aim is to earn their trust and get your children to trust their false online profile.

This is when the child is the most vulnerable. They are susceptible to grooming, blackmailed and coercion.

Often parents have no idea this is happening. This kind of abuse can happen within hours.

As a parent what can you do?

Always talk to your children. Explain the positives of being online. The experience, the exploring, the learning. Then explain the negatives. The possibility of insults, bullying and unfortunately abuse.

Talking and explaining the pros and cons of being online is what we call the first line of defence. Building trust with your children. Getting them to recognise the methods used by abusers.

Technology solutions can be an effective second line of defence. Being able to support your children by

  1. Helping them to manage the time they can be online.
  2. Remove access to common apps that may misused.
  3. Ensure that devices do not function when they should be working or sleeping.

Altus offer a range of solutions and advice and we would be more than happy to talk with you about your options.

Still nervous?

What do you do if are still nervous? You have spoken to your children. Helped them minimise their online activity at home.

Well you would be right to be nervous. Home solutions only work on the WIFI network. What happens when your children are not on the home WIFI network?

If your children are old enough to have their own personal devices, they will be using 4G when they are out and about.

There is a third line of defence. There are security software solutions installed to track their location and their messaging.

This is a last resort. This approach is not recommended. As a parent you will know whether this is the right thing to do.

This type of solutions will work on any network outside of the home.

Conclusion

The pros to children of being online (in moderation) are obvious. Access to unlimited information to learn from. The ability to translate foreign languages in a click. Videos to help them with schoolwork. Explore unlimited ways to tackle the same issue to improve problem solving.

The cons include the potential for the child to bullied, coerced, groomed. There will always be those who seek to use technology to exploit our children.

The first line of defence is always to talk to children and make them understand the pros and cons.

Given the challenges we all face as parents we need to accept some help. How much time you can dedicate to observing your child’s online behaviour?

Technology solutions are a useful support mechanism. They can allow you time to work whilst your children play safely online.

If you would like any information, advice or support with your home technology then please feel free to contact us to discuss.

What extra support is available?

If you feel technology solution is not right for you, there are other options open to you.

There are many sources of information of information for parents to use if they have time.

Parent Info is a website for parents, covering all the issues amplified by the internet. (https://parentinfo.org/)

It enables schools and family-focused organisations to share expert advice and information.

Internet matters is a not for profit organisation. (https://www.internetmatters.org/) It has a simple purpose. To empower parents and carers to keep children safe in the digital world.

Barnardo’s is a charity that listens to children. Fights for their rights and does whatever it takes to protect and support them. (https://www.barnardos.org.uk/).

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