Warning Signs You Should Know To Keep Your Child Safe Online
Keeping up with what our children are doing online and with their cell phone activity is vital these days. Parents must always be looking for warning signs and red flags in protecting kids and keeping them safe in cyberspace. Safety experts say parents need to watch for issues like cyber bullying and harassment such as social withdrawal, falling grades, or self-hating behavior. Due to the internet, email, social networks, cell phones-- kids can now be harassed 24 hours a day.
Parents and adults should be aware these days that kids often have codes and slang they use to communicate with their peers. Parents are likely aware of LOL: laugh out loud. OMG: oh my gosh/god. However, there are some others that aren’t so common that parents should keep an eye out for, because it could mean their kids are chatting about something they don’t want Mom and Dad to learn about. For instance, PAW means, “parents are watching”; MOS is “mom over shoulder”; CD9 is “code 9” which means parents are around and 182 is “I hate you.”
Another issue facing our kids and teens these days that parents need to watch for is sexting. A 2009 poll found that one in five teens sent sexually suggestive pictures via text and may have received such images. Another poll found that 44% of high school boys had seen at least one naked picture of a female classmate. Signs to look for your child is sexting? Is your child extremely protective of their cell phone? Do they send messages in private, not texting a lot while you are around but behind closed doors?
Experts say it is important for parents to understand what their kids are doing online, and although trusting them is important, their safety is equally, if not more important. Most importantly, talk to your kids about what they are doing, open lines of communication are key. Monitor what they are doing online and with their cell phone and keep track of their messages, who they are talking to and when they are doing it. While it may seem like “big brother” is watching, it’s okay. You ARE the parent and no one ever said being the parent would be easy. It’s your job to keep your kids and teens safe and secure.
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