Sunday, December 14, 2008

My daughter got a computer for Christmas, how can I keep her safe?

Wow, this is a good question. My own daughter surfs the web every day, she's 10. I worry that she may not know what info she can give out, and what should be kept secret. Let's start with what I told her:

1. First name ONLY!!!

If someone wants your last name, and they won't leave you alone you need to tell me! I made sure she understands this one. There are many people with the same first name, but when you add the last name, the field just got a lot narrower. This is what Predators want, an advantage!

2. Don't give out the name of our town!

If you tell them the name of your town, how many Mary Roberts live there, not many unless you live in New York city. So now they now the name of your town, so what, they don't know my last name. Keep reading, you'll see why these details are important.

3. School name or mascot!

Tell them you like soccer, tell them you like singing, what ever it is you like. Just don't tell them where you like doing it. By saying I play baseball for the Pine Bush Bushmen, you just told them where you live, and narrowed down the town.

4. Obviously, telephone numbers and address!

I don't think you need this one explained, but your kids DO!! Make sure they know this, and even if it's someone they think they know. Just because someone online says, hi this is Jimmy from school. It doesn't mean it's Jimmy from school!

How can this all work together, to give a predetor access to your kids? Let's see a made up chat:

DaPredator: Hi, this is jimmy, how are you?
TheKidIWantSafe: good, do I know you?
DaPredator: Yes, we go to school together.
TheKidIWantSafe: oh, is this Jimmy Smith
DaPredator: yes
DaPredator: This is sara, right?
TheKidIWantSafe: no, this is Mary, how'd you get my id
DaPredator: from your friend
TheKidIWantSafe: which one
DaPredator: she told me not to tell
TheKidIWantSafe: oh how come
DaPredator: I don't know, she said you would get mad.
TheKidIWantSafe: ok
DaPredator: do you like school
TheKidIWantSafe: no, not really
DaPredator: me either, I like to play soccer though
TheKidIWantSafe: I used to
DaPredator: what do you like
TheKidIWantSafe: I like to play the drums
DaPredator: like in the school band
TheKidIWantSafe: yes
DaPredator: what is that called again
TheKidIWantSafe: the banging Badgers
DaPredator: oh cool
DaPredator: are you from here?
TheKidIWantSafe: no, from Texas
TheKidIWantSafe: moved to NC a few years ago.

So, let's look at that chat. Just in that little chat, we learned that her name is Mary, she lives in North Carolina, she plays in the school band and the school mascot is a Badger. A quick search could find this school, and then more research would help us get more background to use to talk to this person to make them think we really live here.

Please, be safe and talk to your kids about the dangers of online predators!

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