The case of a Virginia law enforcement officer accused of murdering the family of a California girl whom he “catfished” online has brought the issue of “catfishing” to forefront.
“Catfishing” involves an individual who pretends to be someone else online, usually to lure someone into a relationship.
With millions of children using social media sites, often little to no adult supervision, experts shares safety tips parents can use to protect their children from false personas online.
1. Tell your kids not to “friend” someone online that they don’t know in person.
Many social media sites have the “People You May Know” feature on their websites and apps, hoping to connect users to extended family members or former friends. However, this add-on can be dangerous for kids.
According to a parenting blog, allowing your children to only communicate with people they know in real life online can lessen the chances of them talking to a stranger.
2. Don’t share personal information online
Parents should tell their kids not to share personal information with anyone online, ever, according to Cyber Dive.
3. Monitor your children’s online activity
Multiple apps help parents monitor their children’s online activity. Some apps will allow parents to limit how long their kids are online as well, and all cell phones include parental controls.
4. Talk to your kids about online safety
Experts also encourage parents to talk to their children about online safety instead of bombarding them with rules. Engaging in an open dialogue can help your child understand why the rules are in place.
5. Tell kids to ignore private messages from people they don’t know
6. Encourage kids to ask for help when needed