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StaffOnline Predators › Who Are They?

The Internet is a wonderful tool, but it also has its downside. Predators roam the Internet looking for children that want and need attention. So how do you protect your kids? Your first line of defense is to be open with your children and discuss the dangers of the Internet. You probably tell your kids all the time, "Don't talk to strangers", but when they go into a chat room, you allow them to talk to strangers. A predator's typing looks exactly the same as a fifteen-year-old's typing. The only difference is that the predator is trying to gain your child's confidence. After he gains the child's confidence, he will talk them into being secretive. A young impressionable teen trying to gain his independence is no match for these masters. Your teen may at some point feel there is danger, but he may not want to tell his parents for fear of being punished. Even random conversations can get a child into trouble without knowing it. An online conversation may go something like this:

Poohbear105: We won our softball game today!
Dillan955: Congrats! What team do you play for?
Poohbear105: I play for the Jonestown Wildcats.
Dillan955: Cool, my team is Centerville Sluggers I play 2nd base
Poohbear105: I play 3rd base
Dillan955: We haven't started playing yet it is too cold here in northeast PA
Poohbear105: I hate the cold I am so glad I live in FL
Dillan955: I can't wait for Tuesday it is our first game
Poohbear105: Cool! I have a game on Tuesday too

Poohbear doesn't realize it but she just told Dillan what town she lives in and where she will be next Tuesday. She also told him what team she plays for and what position. It is fairly simple to find out the game schedule. Poohbear could have a visitor at her next game.

Remember that parents are not immune to the danger either. It is easy to trust someone that you have talked to for a long time. Even though you have never met the person face to face, you feel as though you know them. Over time, little bits of information slip. All these little bits of information can add up to telling someone your name, address, telephone number, neighbors names and addresses, your work and home schedule, and more. You will have your guard up about giving too much information.

You will need to give your children constant reminders that their online friends may not really be as they seem. Also, constant reminders not to give out personal information are essential. Print out and sign an agreement that you and your child will stay safe and what your family's answers will be when asked specific questions.