"Don't talk to strangers" is one of those cardinal rules that all kids know. But in the digital age, not talking to people you don't know simply isn't enough.
When strangers add, "friend," or follow your children on social media, they can get access to what school they go to, hobbies and even contact information. And that's all without messaging them.
According to a recent survey conducted by the United Kingdom's National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), one in three children have added strangers as friends online. One in four of them said they would probably do it again.
The first danger that may come to mind when you think about your child befriending strangers online is stalking and kidnapping. But predators don't need to meet your children to abuse them. A few months ago, we told you about pedophiles that are tricking kids into sending nude photos.
It's not just strangers you have to be concerned about; the content that social media can expose your child to can be very inappropriate. According to NSPCC, one in three kids have seen violence online and one in five have seen sexual images and bullying.
Part of the problem is that children may be lying about their age when they create these social media profiles. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube all require that their users be at least 13 years old. The survey revealed that two-thirds of children have used apps while under age.
In response to the survey results, the NSPCC is urging parents to speak to their children about online safety. Before you have that lengthy discussion, arm yourself with information. Read the following stories for some essential tips on protecting your kids online: