Is there a stranger in your child’s bedroom?

Do you know that I am who my profile says I am-

Does it give you chills…

When you turn on TV and see that one more child has been victimized by someone they met online?

It does me.  And then I get angry.  Angry at these predators who make it their job to lure kids whose technical proficiency with social media extends beyond their maturity level or their ability to tell the difference between someone who is a real friend and someone who has created a fake profile to lure them into their sick world.

Kids are innocent, and they want to be liked.  Predators are pros at getting to them through their own social media channels. They love to pretend they “used to go to school there” or “played on the same soccer team” or “used to know your friend/sister/cousin/brother.”

Not my kid…
We teach our kids not to talk to strangers, and we impose rules about who they can get into a car with or spend the night with.  And, as much as want to believe they they no better than to talk to a stranger online, don’t count on it.  I was speaking to a group of about 50 5th graders recently and asked how many of them had ever talked to a stranger online.   About 60% of them had. Moving on to the middle and high schools, I asked the same question.  Same response- scary.  Of the kids whose hands were up, I bet every one of their parents thought, “not my kid.”

You wouldn’t let a stranger into your house and back to your daughter’s bedroom to hang out with her.

How do you know they aren’t already there?  Right there on the computer, tablet, or phone.

Here are 3 things you can do to keep the virtual stranger OUT of your house- and your kids’ bedrooms:

1. Check their phones- take inventory

Is your child’s phone blowing up with notifications?  That’s red flag that something is going on, and it’s time to take over.  However, it’s not always that obvious.  Random checks on the phone are highly recommended, and if you feel it’s best to sit down with your child and have him/her show you everything they are doing on the phone, make sure they really show you everything.  It’s very easy for them to show you what they want you to see.  Look for apps like Kik, Blindspot, Whisper, Ask.fm or the “secret vault” apps that look like calculators.  Remember just because your kid is a good kid and easy to parent doesn’t mean that they are mentally in control of who finds them on their devices which brings us to…

2. Look at and question followers and friends on all social media accounts

Who is reaching out to them?  Following them?  See people you don’t know?  It’s completely ok to ask the question:  how do you know this person? Remind them that their value has nothing to do with the # of followers they have, and that they should be choosy about who they allow into their public online life.

3. Take advantage of Get Safe Academy’s Triple “S” Course for Parents (Safety, Self Defense & Social Media 101) while it’s available – only until March 9!

This course cuts through all of the noise, and gives parents exactly what they need to know about keeping their tweens/teens safe online as well as off.  The course also includes a self defense video taught by an renowned expert who is a former CIA paramilitary operator, as well as a video that takes parents through all of the key apps kids are using that we need to know about.  And, whether we like it or not, our kids WILL be judged on their social media profile- whether it’s by a college, recruiter, or employer.  The course wraps up with a video that teaches you how to work with your teen to build an impressive social media profile and to use all social media to their competitive advantage.

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