How to Prevent and Fight Online Stalking
Teens spend a lot of time in a web-based world every single day. They enjoy having chats with friends and sharing funny content on social media. It may seem like a harmless interaction at first glance. But there’s the other side of the coin. The online environment can be dangerous to kids by exposing them to online predators and stalkers. If adolescents are not familiar with Internet security fundamentals, they can get into trouble. Insidious cyber criminals are seeking out their new victims online. And we can’t be silent about it.
Online stalking is one of the most typical and complicated Internet crimes known today. Its essence is using social media platforms to harass another person. It includes following someone without their will, writing offensive messages and sending threats. Online stalkers try to gather as much information about their victim as possible (place of living, favorite spots, hobbies, etc.).
Unfortunately, it’s a pretty simple thing to do. Some teenagers post their private information publicly and make their pictures visible to everyone. This enables online criminals to track down a victim in real life with little effort. More often than not, online stalkers prefer to hide behind someone else’s identity in order to get closer to victims and make friends with them. The sad truth is that such people may turn out to be child molesters and psychopaths.
The following guideline is a real lifesaver for your kids. The next 3 steps will help them improve their online security and protect them from cyber criminals.
1. Watch what you post
Each post matters. This is a golden rule to remember. When it comes to social media, there’s no such thing as confidentiality. The content you share can become public at any time against your will. Internet viruses and malicious programs are able to steal your information and share your posts. As a result, online criminals can take advantage of the stolen content and use it to harass you. To become aware of the latest news on online security, visit websites like The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to get the credible information regarding the subject. This will help you become a more sophisticated Internet user.
2. Trust but verify
As we’ve mentioned before, never share your private information on the Internet. Don’t indicate your e-mail address and phone number on Facebook and other social media sites. Don’t post photos when you’re on vacation or at your place. However, you’re supposed to enter some private data on some websites. In order to be safe, make sure that the security of such sites is proven by TRUSTe or VeriSign. So you won’t worry that your information (private or financial) will be stolen.
If you’ve got a feeling that you are being stalked, you’d better check whether this is true. Use sources like QuitStalkingMe.com or State Cyberstalking Laws to find out. Also, protect your PC or cell phone with a security software. Pick the one that is reliable and advanced and scan your web on a regular basis. This will help you avoid of becoming a victim of Trojans and other viruses. Be especially cautious if you use public computers.
3. Don’t be scared to report
If you keep on getting offensive messages from the other user, don’t drag your feet. It’s a matter of your safety, so report or block the intruder. The good thing is that Facebook allows you to block other users in one click, so they won’t see your posts and won’t disturb you in the future. If a blocking option is not available, report an online stalker. Tell your parents, contact the police or get in touch with the National Stalking Helpline. Never try to respond to the stalker. Don’t waste your time and contact authorities. As it is a form of social terrorism, the criminal has to be prosecuted according to the law.
Though online stalking is considered to be a virtual crime, the danger is real. Children are exposed to online predators and can get victimized. So pay close attention to the information your kids post online. Tell them about online stalking and the serious consequences it can lead to. Set strict rules or turn off their cell phone if needed. Don’t be afraid to be that “unpopular” parent. Security of your kids is the highest priority.