The internet in many ways is quite wonderful. It has made each of our world’s much smaller, connecting and re-connecting individuals that may not have other-wise crossed paths. Cool social networking sites, fun games and shopping are all well-noted benefits of being online. The internet, however, has another side, a dark one. While there are many great things about the internet there are many risks as well. It is because this “dark” side exists that internet users must be diligent about staying safe. Often times, this responsibility falls on concerned but oftentimes, clueless parents.
Most of us are well aware of some of the horrors that have befallen people via the internet. A person may have experienced them directly, know someone who has or read about it in the life of someone else. Virtual disagreements that have turned deadly, suicide because of cyber-bullying and the baiting of young kids and teenagers by sexual predators and deviants are, unfortunately, all pretty common occurrences. In today’s world, where it seems that everyone is connected online and depend on it for daily living, understanding the importance of protecting oneself, and one’s family is of utmost importance. In fact, it just might be a matter of life or death.
The internet has made the world a lot smaller for individuals whose lives are consumed by and revolve around taking advantage of and victimizing others. Many are in fact, obsessed with baiting and harming unsuspecting individuals, often times young persons. Because many times those that victimize others are older, they are more sophisticated in their approach. They are thus, able to more easily take advantage of the individuals they are targeting. Consequently, it is necessary for someone with more life experience (typically a parent or older adult) to play defense.
This might involve warning their adolescent children, teens and even young adults about the potential dangers associated with the internet and how to avoid them. A discussion about internet-safety is always in order and should be done when a child first goes online and periodically after that. It may even be necessary to place certain safe-guards in place, i.e., using software to make certain types of websites off limits and unattainable. All young people should be told never to give out their personal information online and never to agree and meet with people that they have met online.
Speaking with ones teen about how protecting and guarding their reputation online is just as important as them protecting themselves from predators, is crucial in today’s world. The information and/or images that he or she places online are likely to be “out there” forever. The internet caches items and with the widespread availability of screen capture software, one slip up or indiscretion can be documented and accessed by others for a very long time. If embarrassing items or information happens to get into the wrong hands, disaster or at least serious problems may be the result.
To avoid such mishaps, anyone who decides to spend time online must guard their reputation like its golden. An individual should never put anything online, whether it’s a picture, email or ramblings on some random website that would embarrass them if it fell into the wrong hands. Just about everyone is online, a student’s school mates, parents, future employers, potential mates, etc. Having to explain or miss out on important opportunities because an individual was careless and inappropriate online, would be a difficult lesson for a naïve and often times, young person to learn. Parents can be their child’s first and most important teacher in this regard by speaking to them early on about the dangers of the internet.