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Last blog we were talking about the importance of knowing where our kids are at all times. However, because they are essentially “growing up on the phone and internet” they should be taught that, even though they are familiar with it, phone and internet can also be a dangerous place. Remember that pimps and recruiters prey upon a child’s vulnerabilities.

The latest Harvard Research shows that 9 in 10 (93%) teens have a computer or have access to one at home. Although it may be hard to believe, kids as young as three years old are now actively engaging in social media.

Kids online are exploring various websites, emailing friends, chatting with friends through instant messengers and in chat rooms, sending each other pictures and videos, playing games together online, creating websites and web blogs, and searching YouTube for popular “viral” videos.

Besides the cell phone, another way to keep track of your kids is to follow them on their social media sites and browse their internet history. You may learn a lot about your child from how he or she communicates with friends. They should interact with only people they actually know. Allowing only people you know and trust as “friends” or “followers” is the best way to ensure safety when using social networking sites. Unfortunately, some teens are motivated by the total number of “followers” or “online friends,” and fail to think about the dangers associated with a stranger having access to personal information such as photos and location.

Traffickers and predators are masters at deceiving and gaining our kids’ trust online first, before meeting in person.

To avoid that, be sure to place any computer your younger child uses in a common area, so you can monitor what is happening. Pre-teens should never be allowed on chat sites without supervision. For older teens, parents should have the right to ask about browsing history and access to all passwords. At my house, we have a family contract (pledge) that we sign for internet safety. (You may use this link to print this Family Contract for you and your family to use.

When discussing social networking safety with your teen, encourage him or her to always use discretion when posting any type of photo, location, status, and/or message.

Teens tend to overshare information. They post questionable photos, give out their location and share personal information such as their cell phone numbers and home address. What seems like harmless chatter between friends can end up pinpointing your child’s location and regular behavior to a predator.

Learning how to use Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and the latest trends are becoming part of good parenting today. Everyone can learn how to use social media – just ask your child or grandchild to teach you! I am still learning!

Important Information

Chat Lingo

By the way, did you know that there’s a whole different way of speaking online and in chat rooms? Do you know that kids talk in abbreviations and symbols? Do you know what LOL means? ASL? TNX? NP? J/K? or what means? LOL means “laughing out loud.” ASL means “age/sex/location?” TNX means “thanks.” NP means “no problem.” J/K means “just kidding.” And the last symbol is a wink. You can learn about chat lingo by checking with your Internet Service Provider or searching the web for chat lingo. Learn the lingo and know what your kids are saying!!!!

Facts You Should Know

The Internet is a wonderful vehicle for learning. Unfortunately, it is also a powerful tool for predators who prey upon innocent children.

Did you know?

  • Internet crime is the fastest growing crime in the U.S., and children are the fastest growing victim pool.

  • In the U.S., 95% of schools are now connected to the Internet.

  • Over 45 million children ages 10 through 17 use the Internet. Among them:

One in five has been sexually solicited.

One in four has encountered unwanted pornography.

Close to 60% of teens have received an e-mail or instant message from a stranger and half have communicated back.

  • Over 75% of Internet crimes involving sexual solicitations of children and exposure to unwanted pornography is not reported to police or parents

Most children know more about the Internet than adults do. As a result, many parents do not supervise their children’s Internet use. Here are some surprising statistics:

  • An estimated 20% of parents do not supervise their children’s Internet use at all

  • Only 52% of parents moderately supervise their children’s Internet use

  • Some 71% of parents stop supervising Internet use by their children after the age of 14, yet 72% of all Internet-related missing children cases involve children who are 15 years of age or older

  • Close to 62% of teens say their parents know little or nothing about the websites they visit.

* If you believe a child is in danger, immediately report it. Leave the computer untouched. Do not try to be a detective. Report the crime to your local police.