Teaching our kids to be safe—by not talking to strangers—used to be a lot more clear-cut. If someone approaches your child in a store, in a park or when they are walking home from school, they have an ingrained understanding that they need to be wary of these behaviors. Our kids get Stranger Danger in the physical world. But the creation of a virtual playground, the online world our kids are spending an increasing amount of independent time in, has created a whole new category of stranger…one that your kids are reluctant to see as necessarily dangerous.
To your children, anyone that reaches out to them via an app, game, or social media community seems like a good person just wanting to chat. Children today oftentimes don’t distinguish easily between the physical world and the virtual world. They are both real worlds to them. The very concept of a “friend” has been hijacked as any stranger that reaches out to chat and been given new meaning. Until now, because you are involved.
Sign up on the Savvy Cyber Kids website for our free resources to help you digitally parent. The Parent’s Guide to Technology includes a new supplement: Who Is A Stranger? As parents and educators, we need to work together to get our kids to understand that anyone that your child meets online is a stranger, FOREVER.
By Ben Halpert