Stranger danger is a phrase that you possibly hear from an early age. It implies that a person you may not know could be dangerous and may kidnap you by showering gifts or favors.
When you are in school, teachers warn you about the stranger danger. Your parents tell you about it from the beginning. You have to shout, run, and ask an adult for help. You can’t be alone, and it’s best to have someone with you, especially when crossing a lonely street or going home after school.
But what about stranger danger in the online world? Does it exist? If so, what to do about it.
Let’s dig in.
Possibility of Stranger Danger In The Online World
Yes, stranger danger does exist in the online world. It’s different, but it’s still dangerous.
Consider the following situations:
Stranger Pretending to Be A Friend
A stranger that your child meets online in a game may pretend to be the kid’s friend. The online gaming world gives access to chatting and exchange of items or tradeoffs. Kids can trade things or send a gift to someone too. So, anyone can lure the child by showering favors in the gaming world.
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Some strangers may take the route to social media. If a teen is active on social media, this stranger may befriend the kid by pretending to be a pretty girl or boy and being nice to them. If kids are naive, they would believe the person on the other side! It’s not safe at all.
Stranger Asking for Personal Information or Images
Next, the stranger would take the kid into confidence. Once the kid starts trusting this stranger, they may ask for personal information. It could be the full name of the child, parents, date of birth, or any other sensitive information about the family.
Some strangers may go to the extent of asking for images from teenage kids. Usually, little kids play games and may not know how to use social media. Parents must never allow their kids to use social media when they are under 13 years or 16 years. It depends on the rule of the social media platform, your state rules, and what you mutually decide in the family. Even when kids start using social media below the age of 18 years, let them use it in the common room of the house and let them know what they do is monitored on the home computer. Your kids would feel betrayed if they find out you are spying on them, so mutual respect and understanding is vital for the families.
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Stranger Asking to Meet In Person
If the kids somehow manage to avoid giving personal information, the stranger danger worsens when the stranger wants to meet in person. Never let the child meet a stranger from the online world. You never know who is at the other end.
No matter how friendly a stranger is, there is a danger of kidnapping, abuse, etc. Always talk to your kids about the fact that they can’t trust someone they don’t know yet. Some strangers may pretend to fall in love, and the situation may get out of hand.
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What Can You Do As A Parent?
Parenting is tough and challenging. It demands your full attention. However, you have once been a kid, so you know what your child is going through.
Consider the following:
- Evaluate and assess the situation from your kid’s perspective. Right now, the online world means the world to your child. So, you need to have open communication.
- Teach stranger danger! Tell them why it’s essential to be safe online and in the real world.
- Establish trust from an early age. When your kids consider you on their side, it’s easy to share their feelings.
- Never dismiss the feelings of your child. They may stop sharing the next time. Learn to deal with situations wisely. No matter how challenging a situation is, there is always a way. You need to look and think harder.
- When things are hard to understand or when you have no idea how to deal with a particular issue, it’s best to ask for help.
You can read books, watch lectures, grasp information from articles, talk to experts, and more. But at the end of the day, it’s you and a part of you (your child).
Learn, unlearn, and try seeing things differently. Understand that your kids are different from you, and they are a part of a much more modern world.
Be kind, persistent, and the source of pure love, joy, and trust for your kids!