The cyber revolution is bringing with it risks through Desktop and laptop computers located at home, friend’s homes, work, libraries, stores, schools, Internet cafes, wireless connections, PDA/BlackBerry, Cell phones, Internet capable games (i.e., Xbox, Play station). These risks are huge and are everywhere in form of :
- Sexting which is the sending sexual messages, pictures, or videos through cell phones.
- Easy access to pornography. Teenagers who can’t browse through a sexually explicit magazine in a store can easily view explicit images and video online.
- Cyber Bullying. Through use of chat rooms, e-mail, instant messaging, “blogs” and even on-line games, adult strangers can establish direct one-to-one contact with teenagers.Teenagers can be easily mislead to do things that they ordinarily would not do. It is easy for a teenager to reveal more, sometimes much more, than they should.
- Video Networking– U Tube registrations are fairly easy and have Graphic and explicit videos – pornography, violence, pedophilia. Unsolicited “push” pornography and e-mail links are very prevalent and are sent to everyone – including teenagers and children.
- Teenagers using search engines to locate legitimate information can receive links to pornographic sites.
Warning signs. Set off the alarm if your teenager:
•Significantly increases on-line time.
•Receives phone calls or sms’s or email from someone you don’t know.
•Quickly exits chat, email, websites and other activities when you are close by.
•Increases use of new slang words, has inappropriate interest in getting sexual knowledge, withdraws from family and friends.
•Begins using new screen names or an online account belonging to someone .
•Is reluctant to discuss what activities is he involved in .
What can you do as a parent?
•Learn everything you can about computers, the Internet and related technology. Develop and maintain proficiency through use.
•Take time to discuss concerns; agree on ground rules for computer and internet usage. Set reasonable rules and expectations. •Place the computer in a “well-trafficked” area and not in the bedroom or a secluded area.
•Ensure that they do not divulge detailed personal information on chat , mails or social networking sites.
•Know your Teenager’s account password(s) and screen name(s).
•Consider use of Computer and Internet Management Software that can filter and block adult content. View history of internet usage and check lists of web sites visited and chat sessions.