As a child, my mother taught me about ‘stranger danger’ by scaring me to death. She would tell me stories about kidnappings, rape, and murder, and I think I watched one too many Lifetime movies with her. Even though this may be a slightly rough way to teach safety to your children, her parenting method worked. I was completely terrified of pretty much anyone that I didn’t know; I remember on at least two different occasions where strangers approached me and I ran away. Today, parents have an even bigger responsibility to protect their children; strangers are now able to target children in their own homes. Internet safety is somewhat of a new conversation, but Darcy Meyers discusses the phenomenon and what parents can do to protect their children and their privacy in her blog article, “BEYOND STRANGER DANGER: Parental Control and Privacy Strategies to Protect Your Digital Child.”
Using blocks and restricting websites are an excellent way to prevent your child from viewing inappropriate websites, but Meyers insists that talking and reinforcing the danger to your children will ultimately keep them safe. She says, “What is essential is creating and maintaining an open conversation that balances caution with fun and freedom.” Let your children or students know that they can come to you at anytime with questions. As a parent or teacher, your first priority has to be to keep your children safe. Even though it may be difficult or awkward to have the Internet safety conversation, it is a necessary one.
Maybe my kooky mother wasn’t so kooky after all?