A lot of people have the pre-conceived notion that helicopter parents are the kind of parents that hover around their children during every waking moment of the day. They don’t allow their kids to do anything unless they are at least five feet away. And while some of that might be true and some of that might be over-exaggerated, it looks like there are some benefits to being a helicopter mom, but from a digital perspective. As a matter of fact, there’s a new report that says helicopter parenting is really the only way to keep kids safe on the internet.
With so many kids and tweens opening up their own social media accounts, using messenger apps and exploring the Internet on their own, little do they know about the real online dangers for kids. That’s why parenting experts are now suggesting that parents perhaps spend more time hovering over their kid’s screen time than their activities on the playground.
According to Fatherly, statistics show that more and more kids, some as young as four years old, are connecting or chatting with strangers online. The Center for Cyber Safety reports that of the kids who met a stranger online, over half of them gave them their personal phone number. Another 15 percent had even attempted to meet the stranger in person.
Camille Cooper, who is Vice President of Public Policy for the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) says that this new digital ‘stranger danger’ can occur anywhere but what makes it so frightening is that it’s occurring inside the homes of many families. She says, “At any given moment of time, when a child goes online, there are 50,000 offenders attempting to have contact with children.”
And while you definitely see more children playing indoors these days than outdoors, that doesn’t mean they are any safer at home or under the care of their parents. Each and every time a child is online or using a social media app, there’s a good chance that someone might be trying to reach out to them or worse, they might be trying to watch them, too. That’s why parents are being urged to look over their children’s phones and of course, talk to them about online safety. That’s because online predators hang out where kids like to hang out, such as in apps, games and online spaces where children like to congregate.
Cooper adds, “Parents are hovering in the real world but they’re not even paying attention to what their kids are doing online. When you allow your kid to go online your giving the entire world access to your child. It’s a parent’s job to be vigilant.”