In a recent Llama Mama workshop for parents, I was asked the question: How can I monitor my child’s WhatsApp content? Recent events have been an eye opener to many parents with the need to monitor devices more regularly highlighted. So often we warn our children against speaking to strangers online, but have we really paid attention to conversations with dangerous people they might trust?
Technology has blurred the lines that used to keep adults in authoritative positions and children apart. WhatsApp has become a conduit to forming a close relationship with a child and earning their trust.
“The boundaries that used to exist are murky and the devices we hand our children can become the very tool that is used to groom them into dangerous waters.”
5 SIMPLE WAYS TO KEEP YOUR CHILD SAFE
How to we navigate this new terrain? Today Sassy Llama brings you 5 things you can do to protect your child from the devil he knows:
CREATE A SOFT-LANGING SPACE
Child predators tend to convince children that they are to blame, that they are also guilty or that they consented. Children are therefore nervous of speaking out as they believe they are the culprits. For example: A child who has sent a nude picture of herself can easily be silenced by the treat of her own wrongdoing.
Children often do not speak out, because they are terrified of the consequences of their actions (such as being grounded or losing phone privileges) and believe they are partly to blame for the abuse. Although there is merit in teaching a child that actions have repercussions, not over-reacting when a child steps over the line can assist in laying a soft-landing space for open sharing.
Fostering an environment in which they are aware that they will be loved and cherished no matter what they do is essential. It is also important to highlight that mom and dad are not perfect and share your youthful mistakes openly.
CHECK YOUR CHILD’S DEVICES
Sit down next to your child and open the device. Chat about the photos, conversations & searches in a light-hearted discussion with empathy and values at the center of the conversation.
USE WHATSAPP WEB TO MONITOR WHATSAPP CONTENT
Sync your child’s phone to WhatsApp web on your desktop. This way you can monitor all incoming and outgoing videos, photos, voice notes and messages. WhatsApp Web is free, works remotely and allows you to keep you child safe from grooming, bullying and reputational harm.
BE A CONSTANT PRESENCE
Pedophiles pick their victims carefully. They are more likely to start grooming a child who is not closely monitored or do not have a strong bond with their parents. A child whose parents are absent or only present occasionally from a distance is more vulnerable. A child from a family unit with strong attachments in place is less likely to seek those bonds elsewhere. This is why quality time and being present and involved is so important.
TEACH THEM THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SAFE SCRETS AND DANGEROUS SECRETS
When a child has been groomed by a predator over time and a trust relationship has been established, they tend to protect adult by keeping the secret.
“Children are often loyal to the secret they’ve been asked to keep.”
It is important to teach your child the difference between safe secrets (what we are getting daddy for his birthday) and dangerous secrets. Knowing the difference and having a soft-landing space to share openly is key to protecting them from remaining loyal to a dangerous secret.
Protecting your child from the predator he may know is a narrative that should be adopted in your home in the same way ‘stranger danger’ was in the 80’s. We hope that these simple tips will assist you in parenting your precious netizen.
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