It seems as if us parents had it easy growing up. There was so much less to worry about. We didn’t have to focus on how many Instagram followers we had, how many likes our pictures got, or how many Facebook friends we had; social media simply did not exist. In fact, the internet didn’t even exist! While the invention of the internet has had lots of benefits, it has opened up a whole new can of worms regarding child safety.

Risks of Social Media

Most children are unaware of the dangers of social media. They feel comfortable posting anything and everything! Social media has inherent dangers that are only amplified when its users are uneducated in online safety. Studies have shown again and again that kids are more than willing to accept friend or follow requests from people that they don’t know. Not only that, but a number of kids have no problem posting personal information online such as where they live, where they attend school, their first and last name, along with other details about their lives. This makes social media the perfect hunting grounds for online predators who may be searching for vulnerable children.
Perhaps it’s teen’s natural curiosity or maybe a desire to be independent, but they are also more than willing to engage actively with “friends” that they meet online. This means they are revealing even more personal information to these strangers and even agreeing to meet up with them! This makes it easy for predators to pretend like they are somebody else in order to groom a victim.

How online predators operatecover information about them online. The grooming

Kids love posting pictures of themselves and the things that they do so it’s not very hard to dis process could be as easy as simply viewing a person’s profile if they have posted enough information online. Features like “checking in” let anybody with access to your child’s profile know exactly where they are exactly when they are there. Nobody needs to know this much about your kid’s location. Even things that seem harmless can make your child a victim. Somebody can pretend to be really interested in the same things as your child and gain their trust after a little bit of talking about a “mutual” interest. Though it might be fun for kids to meet people on the internet, the risks are too high. In fact, it is estimated that around 50,000 sexual predators are online at any given moment and 50% of sex crimes against a minor consist of the perpetrator getting information or pictures from the victims social media accounts. It’s also not hard to convince teens to meet up. According to the Enough is Enough Organization, 16% of teens have considered meeting up with somebody they met online while 8% have actually done it.

Keeping kids safe online

While it may seem that simply banning the internet is the only way to fully protect your kid from online predators, that is not a good choice. The internet is a huge part of our modern way of life and your child really can’t be without it. It’s very difficult to avoid social media so having a sit down conversation with your kids to go over safety and rules is the next best option.
Educate your kids

Without worrying them too much, tell them about the dangers of using the internet. In order for them to stay safe they need to know what’s out there. As much as you might try to monitor them, they can probably still get around rules even if you are vigilant so the best protection is just for them to be smart and aware!

Know what’s out there

How many parents had no idea what snapchat was even years after it came out? It’s important to be up to date on the newest and most popular forms of online communication because they’re constantly changing!

Enable safety features on all devices

There is no reason that your child needs to have location services on their social media accounts. There aren’t any pros for you son or daughter to be tagging their location; it can only have negative consequences. Nobody needs to know when and where your kid is except for you.

Enhance privacy settings

Just like the location services, there is no reason that strangers need to view your child’s posts on social media. Make sure their profile is as private as can be and that they don’t accept friend requests or follow requests from strangers.

Don’t let kids reveal their age

Online predators are very good at identifying children. Urge your child to not post photos of themself or use usernames that reveal their age. Many usernames consist of birth year as a number like “coolgirl96” or “scooterboy03.” Discourage this. Predators will then know exactly how old your child is and can use that information to be sneakier.

Know your child’s passwords

Though you don’t need to read all of your kids private messages, this can be very helpful in case of an emergency. If your child goes missing or gets severely injured, these can be instrumental in finding them. While you shouldn’t go behind their back, tell you child why you need them and explain that you can respect their privacy while being safe.


Kids are not simply going just stop being irresponsible simply because you have a conversation with them. You need to foster an environment of trust so that if your kid ever finds their self in a bad situation then they feel comfortable talking to you about it. Remember, kids make mistakes so if they ever come you with a problem, don’t get mad and just be happy that they didn’t try to hid it from you.

If you would like more information on how you can prevent kidnapping, check out this guide.

Author's Bio: 

KidGuard's sole mission is to protect your children online. Our team spends every waking hour thinking about how to bring awareness and inspire solutions on issues of cyber bullying, online predators, teen suicide, and childhood depression in the age of technology. KidGuard employs a team of researchers and writers to educate parents on solutions to digital parenting problems and also runs a popular child cell phone monitoring software to allow parents to stay involved in their child's life online.