Every so often I run down my Friends list and start deleting people.
My criteria for deletion:
1. I don’t know them. (which means I shouldn’t have added them in the first place)
2. I can’t remember where I met them.
3. I don’t remember why I added them.
Some people on my Friends list are my friends because I felt rude not accepting their friend request. However, once I thought about the reality of online predators and pedophiles, it became easier to limit the people allowed access–especially since I post pictures of my children.
The dangers of the predators don’t stop with Facebook – although I am AMAZED every year at how many of my teenagers post their school schedule on their Wall. I’m going to be blunt here–that is one of the stupidest things you can do.
How many people deserve full access to your life?
I also made sure my privacy settings, especially with pictures, were set to “Friends,” not “Friends of Friends.” I know not all my buddies are careful with their Friends List, so if my setting is “Friends of Friends,” I have now allowed potential psychos into my private world.
Besides Facebook, chat rooms are one of the most dangerous playgrounds for sexual predators and pedophiles.
This is what you think is happening:
This is what really is happening:
Alicia befriended her captor online. She met him and he imprisoned her. Watch Alicia tell her story.
After working with students as long as we have, I can guarantee you that my husband and I have learned some serious parenting skills. Let me share a few.
- If my children want a Facebook, J and I will be their first friends will full access to their photos, walls, everything.
- Web cams in their rooms? Forget it!
- Instant Message dialogues will be set to automatically save.
- Text messages can be inspected at any time, without warning. (Ever heard of sexting? Check out the For Parents tab at the top of the page.)
You might be thinking that those requirements are absurd, overprotective, or unreasonable. Consider these stats from ChatAlert.com:
80% of children feel they should be better protected from harmful material and individuals on the net.
92% of parents can’t identify common chat room lingo. (ex. A/S/L = Age / Sex / Location)
95% of parents can’t identify lingo warning people they’re chatting with that their parents are watching.
(ex: POS = Parent Over Shoulder and P911 = Parent Alert)
Freedom Youth Project has a great article about teens being pursued by online predators. Parents, I encourage you to check out the stats on ChatAlert. Don’t worry about your pre-teen and teen’s “privacy” online. There is no reasonable expectation of privacy. Know their business and monitor their activity.
In fact, online predators count on the fact that parents allow their children freedom online. It’s how they win.