With social media sites such as Facebook prevalent in the lives of almost every individual with internet access, the privacy of our information is no longer sacred and anything can be easily accessed with the click of a mouse. With this sharing and accessing of information comes dangers and the most innocent victim may be an unsuspecting child.
Children are often fascinated with the thought of meeting new people through the Internet, especially via chat rooms and social sites. While there is nothing wrong with social networking it can be dangerous, particularly if someone finds out about the child’s age and tries to exploit them into revealing unnecessary information. This is why it is important for parents to take control of their children’s internet access and teach them safe practices.
One of the most reported cases of child exploitation in chat rooms is related to sexual exploitation. A perpetrator usually spends hours in a particular chat room that he thinks will interest children, waiting patiently for an innocent child to talk to them. Some young girls (as is often the case) are more than willing to speak with seemingly friendly individuals, often for them to confide in and just share thoughts with.
The child may find it quite difficult to let go of the virtual relationship because he or she feels that there is an actual friendship going on. As such, the child will likely reveal private and personal information.
When the innocent child and the perpetrator get better acquainted, the perpetrator gets more and more confident and begins to make advances, such as a meeting in real life. This will eventually lead to an invitation to the perpetrator’s place where the child may be abused and/or exploited.
When the innocent child and the perpetrator get better acquainted, the perpetrator gets more and more confident and begins to make advances
Apart from the risk of abuse and exploitation, there is questionable content that exists on the internet. Even if you closely monitor your child’s online activities, it can difficult to censor the information and materials they encounter. Inappropriate and adult-themed content aren’t uncommon within social media sites and other areas of the internet. There are certain programs and filters that can be installed as precautions, but they are never a 100% guarantee in having this kind of content blocked and inaccessible.
Social sites and chatting is fine, so long as the children are kept away from the evils that are linked with these uses of the internet. Should a child become exposed to these dangers there is no telling what the overall effect in his or her life would be. One way of parents protecting their children is by checking on their internet use, installing child-friendly software and teaching their child safe and appropriate ways to use and explore the web.