The Internet…Convenience, Interaction,Inspiration and What Else?
Participating in online chats, discussion groups and social networks can lead to wonderful online friendships. It is very easy to feel comfortable with someone we meet online because there is a false sense of security we feel because we are connecting in the comfort of our own homes.
While we may know many things about our online friends — their favourite food, favourite movies, where they work/study or last went for their holidays — we need to remember that they are essentially still a stranger. How can we even be sure that what they've told us is true?
Many people on social networks or dating sites are indeed sincere and looking for genuine friendships. But predators are on the prowl too, watching and waiting. Those who are up to no good often build relationships and develop trust with unsuspecting users before convincing them to join illegal activities or to take advantage of them. Think carefully before placing your full trust in people you just met online.
Just as our parents used to warn us about not talking to strangers and not accepting sweets or gifts from them, today's parents need to understand the risks on cyber space and advise their children accordingly. Many parents are concerned about the risk of sexual grooming. Parents should have conversations with their children on what they do online, and who they talk to, and in the process, talk about the need for discernment and critical thinking and exercising good judgement.
It is part of growing up that teenagers want to make new friends. Sometimes, youths want to meet to trade game cards and collectibles, and in such instances, parents should accompany their child to the meeting.
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