10 Tips to Keep Your Child Safe From Online Predators

children and technology Sep 26, 2018

Give technology a bedtime.

by the editorial team and Sophia Ruan Gushée


The world wide web is a wonderland of information and entertainment. And it's great for kids when used mindfully and with adult supervision.

But it can also be an unsafe environment for kids to navigate on their own, including from online predators who are savvy in preying on children.     

After hearing about worrisome scenarios of children and the internet, parents often wish they could ban their children from the internet and social media. But then they quickly recognize that avoiding the internet is probably impossible and not worthwhile. The online world has become integral to students and adults, offering many benefits.

Instead, parents can empower their children with online safety guidelines to avoid dangerous people and situations. This article shares tips on precautionary measures parents can pursue.


How Do Predators Get to Kids?

The New England Journal of Public Policy reports that predators usually connect with kids in online chat rooms, social media, or in the chat feature of multiplayer games such as Clash of Clans, Minecraft, World of Warcraft, and other similar ones.

Games designed for younger children usually have built-in features to prevent inappropriate comments and chatting. Games designed for older audiences have fewer controls and safeguards. 


10 Precautionary Tips

When it comes to online safety, parents should consider being vigilant. It's common for parents to assume their child is safe because he or she is home. A child could be making plans to meet a “cute boy or girl” without realizing it's a 42-year old pedophile posing as a teen. And this can occur with parents nearby, like making dinner just one room away.  

The internet may not be the place for parents to  “trust” their child’s judgment completely. Providing safe, directive guidance about online safety is as important as teaching children how to cross NYC streets safely, ride a bike safely, or other safety precautions we often teach children when in a moving car (i.e., wearing seat belts and making sure the driver hasn't been drinking).

The FBI’s Violent Crimes Against Children (VCAC) program investigates all violent crimes against children, including online sexual exploitation and abuse. Below are precautionary measures parents can pursue to help keep their kids safe from online predators:

  1. Establish time periods during which kids can be online.

  2. Give technology a home and a bedtime! Determine when all devices should be turned off, and put away in their "homes," like all wireless devices organized into a technology charging station/organizer (like in the image below, which you can click on to explore further on Amazon), established in a common space (i.e., not in a bedroom).

  3. Write down rules and guidelines for online behaviors.

  4. Monitor children's digital messages to make sure kids are not developing a relationship with strangers.

  5. Be careful with photographs and cameras. Talk to children about never sending pictures to strangers. Also, you can cover your computer camera when not using it so that if your computer is compromised, the intruder will not be able to see you.

  6. Instruct your children to be careful about who posts pictures of them and where they are tagged. Providing your children with language they can use when having these conversations with their friends can help. Awareness and preparation can go a long way.

  7. Turn off the location feature on cameras, phones, tablets, computers, and laptops. Some cameras have settings that automatically identify picture location This gives predators valuable information on where their targets live. 

  8. Keep computers in a visible and common area of your home. Consider making bedrooms off-limits while children are on the computer.

  9. Use screen names that create anonymity when possible. Having an online name other than your own makes it just a little harder for a predator to learn your children's real identity.

  10. Get to know your children's digital spaces, including games. Any online space or application (app) that allows contact with strangers without verifying age is a potential meeting space and safety risk for children. Children, including teens, are curious and sometimes visit adult chat rooms and dating apps without parents' knowing.


Conversations are key

Parents can empower children with safety guidelines through education, ongoing communications, and implementation of safety protocols for devices. However, it is not enough to implement the newest firewall or download the latest protection if your child is going to circumvent them. Ongoing conversations about online dangers is as important as ongoing conversations about working hard, meeting responsibilities, not drinking and driving, and looking both ways before crossing streets. 

The ultimate goal is for children to experience and enjoy benefits of the internet and minimize the risks. This is possible through the collaborative teamwork efforts of parent and child.

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Ruan Living simplifies a nontoxic lifestyle through its Practical Nontoxic Living podcast, free detox workshops, online D-Tox Academy, and transformative 40-Day Home Detox. It aims to help you avoid toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from what you buy, own, and do— without compromising your joy and convenience. Ruan was founded by Sophia Ruan Gushée, author of the bestselling critically acclaimed book A to Z of D-Toxing: The Ultimate Guide to Reducing Your Toxic Exposures and several detox workbooks. A graduate of Brown University and Columbia Business School, Sophia has served on the Brown University School of Public Health Advisory Council and Well+Good Council. A popular nontoxic living speaker, consultant, and teacher, Sophia lives in New York City with her husband and three daughters. Her passion for empowering others to enjoy nontoxic living began with the birth of her first daughter in 2007. Everything she creates is a love letter to her children and for the healthiest, brightest future possible. You can learn more here: Sophia’s Impact.


This article is for informational purposes only. This information is provided “as is” without warranty.

It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice. We do not offer medical advice, course of treatment, diagnosis, or any other opinion on your conditions or treatment options. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Ruan Living.

In no event will Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living be liable for any damages or loss of any kind resulting from the use of this website. Anyone relying upon or making use of the information on this website does so at his or her own risk.

Some of the services and products recommended on this website provide compensation to Sophia Ruan Gushee or Ruan Living. All recommendations are based foremost upon an honest belief that the product, service, or site will benefit our site visitors in some way.  

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