No. 1258



In my column today I want to talk with you about a topic that was not even around when most of us were growing up: Internet safety for children. I wish it were not even necessary to write this column, but sadly it is, because there are some bad people in this world today. As a result of what I am going to say, if you have not already done so, please talk with your children and grandchildren about it and how they can keep from being a victim. If there is one thing we don’t need it is online predators, cyberbullies and content from people who need to have their mouth washed out.
My source for the content of this column comes from a website titled: and this site contains a lot of other helpful information in addition to Internet safety. Here are the top online threats for children: Cyberbullying, online predators, exposure to inappropriate content. Here is what they say: almost 34 percent of children age 12-17 have been cyberbullied at some point in their life, and 11.5 percent have bullied someone else online.
Here is one that can be deadly: Online Predators. Adults who use the internet to entice children for sexual or other types of abusive exploitation are considered online predators. Child victims can be as young as 1 or as old as 17. When it comes to online enticement, girls make up the majority (78 percent) of child victims, while the majority (82 percent) of online predators is male. And 98 percent of online predators have never met their child targets in real life.
Exposure to inappropriate content: Inappropriate content is one of the most common online threats that children encounter. Everything from vulgar language and hate speech to graphically violent or sexual images can have a very harmful effect on an impressionable child.
Here are six ways to protect your child from cyberbullying: 1. Know the risks. Encourage your child to be on the lookout for any interactions that make them feel bad, scared or sad. 2. Talk about it. Make sure your child knows that it is safe for them to talk to you, if something makes them feel uncomfortable. 3 Keep a Watchful Eye. Place the computer in a common room and monitor all screen time. Use a shared e-mail account, and if you let children interact on social media, make sure you have full access to manage their accounts. Parental control software is a great way to stay in the know.
4. Set Boundaries. Put time limits on screen time: this should include all online activities from homework to playing games and surfing the web. 5. Build a Network. They don’t say it takes a village for nothing. The more people you have looking out for your children online, the more likely you are to keep them safe. 6. Be Prepared to Respond. Don’t wait until the heat of the moment to come up with your game plan. In case your child does get bullied online, learn what the proper responses are so you can keep your emotions in check and help your child deal with what they are going through.
In summary, please understand there is so much more help on the website that I gave earlier. While I understand that this is not a problem for most people, it is very real for those who are confronted with it and must deal with it. There is nothing more precious in the entire world than our children, and taking steps to protect them is a very important matter.
(Editor’s Note: JIM DAVIDSON is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states, making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)