Catfishing has been brought to the forefront as a dangerous cyber threat with the case of the Virginia law enforcement officer who has been accused of murdering family members of a girl in California whom he Catfished online. The term catfishing refers to the act of a person who assumes a fake identity online to lure adults and children into a relationship. Catfishing is at the core of many cyber crimes for adults, but now cybercriminals and real-life predators are targeting kids with this crime. The holidays are approaching which means children will have long periods during winter break to spend online chatting and playing games with very little supervision which is why parents need to use the following tips to protect their children.
1. Set the ground rules when it comes to technology usage. Many parents will purchase a smartphone, tablets, or gaming systems for their children without settings rules for use. Make sure your children know what your expectation for device use. This will make it easier to police how devices are used in your home.
2. Don't rely on parental control software alone. Parental software is great for setting time limits on your kids' devices and keeping your children away from inappropriate sites. Some will even monitor text messaging. What it won't do is monitor conversations that go on in Direct Messenger. Most social media sites and online games have a DM feature and this is where your children are hanging out. Look at the chat log on a regular basis to make sure conversations are appropriate and predators aren't targeting your children. 3. Device use in public spaces in the home only. Your children are probably sneaking smartphones into your family restroom to chat with friends. Same thing when they are hiding in their bedrooms. Do not allow this practice. Make sure if your child is on a smartphone, it's in a public space in your home. Yes, it doesn't stop conversations when they are on the go, which is why you need to .. 4. Check Your Children's devices regularly. The best parental control on the Internet is a parent who checks their kids' devices. You don't want to snoop, but you should. Cyber Criminals and real-life predators are looking for children to groom and take advantage of. 5. Say no to strangers. Make sure your kids are only interacting with children they know in person in online gaming and on social media. New online friends could be predators trying to groom them. Also, they need to ignore messages from strangers as well 6. No family or personal information should be shared online. Instruct your kids NEVER to share personal family information and photos. They could help a criminal find you and your kids. The same is for sharing photos, especially nudes.
I hope you can use these tips to help keep your children safe this holiday season. They will have a lot of downtime with this school break, make sure they are doing what they should be doing when they use their devices. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!
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