THE dangerous world of cyber perverts, pornography, trolls, and harmful websites can find your child through games consoles, IPOD touch devices, and smartphones, parents have been warned.
Top cop Mark Smith spoke out after a 13-year-old Black- burn boy admitted raping his sister after watching porn on his friend’s Xbox.
Following the case, report- ed in yesterday’s Lancash-ire Telegraph, the Greater Manchester Police Detective Superintendent said mums and dads needed to keep up with the advances in inter-net technology.
He urged them to talk reg-ularly to their children about what they do, and who they talk to on the web, and make sure that all appropriate online safety measures are in place.
His warning were echoed by Linda Szafar, Simonstone- based 6G Internet’s online safety expert, who said par-ents were often ‘in the dark’ about the murky cyber-world their sons and daughters could be drawn into.
Det Supt Smith, who leads the national Child Exploit-ation and Online Protection Centre in the North West, said: “These are conversat-ions that parents need to have with their teenage and younger children.
“A lot don’t realise youngs-ters access the internet through their games console, IPOD touch and mobile phone.
“They need to know about parental controls, turn them on, and talk to their children about who they talk to on social media, and where on the net they go.
“We find adults getting to children by posing as 12-year-olds to play games.
“It is the cyber equivalent of not letting your children talk to, or accept sweets from, strangers in the street.”
Mrs Szafar said: “We’ve realised parents are really in the dark about protecting children and young people online.
“A generation gap, and the massive advancements in technology over the past few decades, threaten to amp- lify this.
“As parents, we would not let our children cross the road before we had taught them how to cross safely. We need to do the same with the internet.
“Social networking sites are notorious for attracting undesirable members of soc- iety.
“Would you be happy for your child to walk down the street wearing a sign det-ailing their full name, age, location, their favourite hobb- ies, and places they visit?
“It’s essential children lock their profiles, so only trusted people see the infor-mation they share.
“There are chatrooms, web- sites and email exchanges.
“It’s not just paedophiles, it’s bullies, blackmailers, and hackers.”
Key advice to parents incl-udes: n Sit down and highlight the risks to your children of giving personal details online n Ask what information they want online, and if they would share it with a stranger n Stress being online is not an invincible barrier against real-world threats; n Make sure you know how to block websites n Highlight that pictures online can be manipulated without their permission, and used for blackmail and bullying n Stress that meeting people contacted online is extremely dangerous.