2009-11-20 / Top Stories

Protecting Children And Teens Online

Children and teens are most vulnerable to Cyber-sex offenders onli - ne. Cyber-sex offenders are child pornographers, enticers, groomers or travelers.

Child pornography on the Internet is a huge industry. It is estimated that there are over 100,000 child pornography websites capable of bringing in more than $3 billion annually. Children and teens mistakenly access pornography on the Internet through innocent searches, stealth sites and misleading URLs, through Peer to Peer Technology, through unsolicited emails and Instant Messaging and through Enticers, Groomers and Travelers. The greatest threats to children and teens online are the Online Enticers, Groo mers and Trave - lers. From the safety of their home these sexual predators use the Internet to anonymously and simultaneously prepare numerous children and teens for sexual victimization. These Cyber-sex offenders meet their victims and develop relationships through Social Networking sites, Chat Rooms, Gaming Sites and through adults using Online Dating Services.

A survey conducted by the Crimes against Children Research Center revealed that minors are very vulnerable online:

One in five receives an unwanted sexual solicitation.

One in 33 experiences an aggressive approach where an individual requested a meeting, telephoned or sent regular mail, money or gifts.

One in four had unwanted exposure to explicit pictures.

Less than 10 percent of sexual solicitations were reported to police.

Keep your child's computer in a high traffic area and never allow your child to have a computer in his or her bedroom. Monitor your child's use of the Internet and get to know the websites he or she accesses. If you don't know how to use the computer, ask your child to show you.

If you allow your child to use Social Net working, blogs or journal websites, be sure to check that his or her profile does not include personal information such as his or her name, photos, sports teams or other identifying information.

Do not allow your child to download mu sic illegally as he/she risks being exposed to child and adult pornography files being attached to the music files.

Share email accounts so you can monitor his/her emails.

Set parental controls which are typically available through your Internet service providers or purchase Internet filtering software.

Report inappropriate emails or instant messages to your Internet pro vider or law enforcement authorities. Contact law enforcement authorities immediately if your child is sent sexually explicit text or child or adult pornography.

Protecting Children and Teens Who Play Video Games and Game Online

"Playing Video Games Online: The Parent-Friendly Guide" - article by ESRB president Patricia Vance on GoodHousekeeping.com which advises parents about the realities of online gameplay and the steps they can take to protect their children. http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/family/safety/online video-game-safety

ESRB Ratings Guide - definitions of all ESRB rating categories and content descriptors, and an illustration of where both can be found on game packaging. http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp

Parent Resources - links to sites that provide reviews, demos, screenshots, and other information that parents can use to make informed decisions about games for their families. http:/www.esrb.org/about/resources.jsp

Tips for Parents - guidance on choosing games and being aware of new Internet capabilities, like online-enabled games and modifications. http://www.esrb.org/about/parents_tips.jsp

Parental Controls Guide - step-by-step guide on setting up and using parental controls on all the major game systems. http://www.esrb.org/about/parentalcontrols.jsp

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