Internet Dangers To Children
Internet Dangers To Children
Marc Klaas (President & Founder, KlaasKids Foundation) gives expert video advice on: How is the Internet dangerous for children?; How can I stop Internet predators from contacting my child? and more...
How is the Internet dangerous for children?
What's happened with the internet is that it took a population of marginalized individuals and created a community, and it created a community of individuals who prey upon children. It's an anonymous community that does file-sharing of illegal images of kids. It networks and emboldens itself, and it does that by sharing information on how best to use the internet to prey on kids. The stereotypical child molester perhaps used to be the guy that would lurk around the schoolyard, and prey upon kids in the schoolyard, or on the street. But because of technology and because of binary code, those very same individuals now are able to find their way into our children's bedrooms, without our knowledge. They are then able to find those children that we talked about earlier, those children with confidence issues, or those children that are vulnerable, and then prey upon those children through chat rooms, or through instant messaging or any of a number of means of communicating via the internet. They then lure those kids out of the bedrooms and into their arms. That is why children are vulnerable to the internet. Very bad people have found ways to use it to their advantage, and while they've been doing that society has been looking in a different direction. We're now in a situation where the bad guys have the great advantage over us because nobody has ever taken responsibility for the internet at all. So we've created what we think is a world wide web but in many respects is a wild wild west.
At what age should children be allowed to browse the Internet?
What age a child should be allowed to use the Internet depends on the Internet browser being used. We know that children have a familiarity with computers at very young ages, and that sometimes children going into kindergarten can have a sophistication with computers that far outpaces even their parents'. One has to be careful, then, with how they allow those kids to use the Internet. There are Internet browsers that are made specifically for young children that do a very good job of filtering content. As long as they're supervised, I would say that young children should be encouraged to get on and get involved with the modern technologies like the Internet.
What is the "CyberTipline"?
The CyberTipline is a service run by the national center for missing and exploited children. The way it breaks down is that if somebody feels that their child is being exploited on-line, or that there are other kinds of hanky-panky involving children on-line, they then take that information and call the CyberTipline or email the CyberTipline so that action can be taken. Basically what happens at the CyberTipline, is they warehouse information until they have what they feel is enough to move on and they then regurgitate the tips back to the local jurisdiction. Often so much time has passed between the time that the information was sent to the CyberTipline and the time it gets back, that law enforcement is unable to take action because either the problem no longer exists or the perpetrator has moved on to a different location. That tends to be typical of what they do at the national center for missing and exploited children. They tend to run as a PR arm more than they do as any kind of a resource for missing kids, unfortunately.
What should I do if I think my child is facing an Internet danger?
Certainly, you don't want to discount the CyberTipLine if you think your child is facing an internet danger. That should be one of the resources that you access and notify. But when there is a crime going on in the local jurisdiction it is the local authorities that need to be notified. And, if not the local authorities because of the international and universal nature of the internet, certainly one should contact the FBI because they are able to deal with these issues of children facing internet danger much more quickly and much more directly than the National Center. The reason for that is because they are law enforcement. The National Center likes to create an environment where it is the middle man for everything. They don't really do anything but transfer information around. And it's like a lot of middle men. If you eliminate the middle man you are going to get a faster service. You are going to get a better service. Things will run much more efficiently in the process of realising whether your child is facing an internet danger.