Creating Content Many teens and adolescents use their webcams to create videos which they post to video-sharing sites like YouTube and Vimeo. In these videos, children sing, dance, tell stories, share opinions or show off other talents. While most of this is innocent fun, it is important that you talk to your children about what content you consider appropriate for posting online.
For example, you may not want your children singing certain songs or using certain words. Make sure to review all videos before they are posted, and remind your children that their videos may be seen by a large audience. The videos may also be around for a long time; actions that seemed funny at age 14 may be embarrassing when they are adults applying for jobs.
Chatting Via Webcam
Video-streaming sites like Justin.tv or Skype can be a great way to keep in touch with family and friends. Users can use their webcam to connect with each other and engage in real-time, live video chats as a way to stay in touch with family and friends. Some video chat services allow the content to be recorded, so it’s important to teach children to be mindful of what they say and do while chatting via webcam. Encourage them to report any inappropriate actions by other webcam users to you and the website immediately.
Manipulation by Predators
Some predators try to take advantage of webcams’ capabilities in order to manipulate children and teens. Predators may even send webcams during the grooming process. While children may view the webcams simply as gifts, predators often use them for exploitation. Predators may start by making small, seemingly harmless suggestions while chatting with the child or teen, such as removing a shirt so that they can see. If the child or teen complies, the suggestions may escalate to full nudity and sexual acts. If the child or teen stops cooperating, some predators will threaten to expose recordings they’ve made of the the child or teen's previous actions in order to force them into complying.
Tips for Using a Webcam Safely
Teach your children to think carefully before revealing themselves on video. They don't know who will use the video, or for what purposes the video will be used. Once it's online, it is there forever. There is a rule that says "If you wouldn't want it seen on the 5 o'clock news, then you shouldn't put it online." Teach them this rule and talk to your children about reporting any uncomfortable situation, while reassuring them that they are not helpless.
- Keep the computer and webcam in a public area of your house and strictly supervise your child’s usage.
- Discuss what information is allowed and not allowed to be shared online.
- Talk about appropriate and inappropriate uses of a webcam.
- Start a dialogue about the possible consequences of sharing too much personal information or displaying inappropriate behavior on a webcam.
- Create a plan of action if someone makes an inappropriate solicitation.
- Emphasize the importance of telling you or another trusted adult if anything happens to make them feel scared or uncomfortable.
Starting the Discussion
- Do you chat with any of your friends through webcam?
- Can I see the videos that you have made?
- Has anyone ever asked you to do anything inappropriate on your webcam? What would you do in this situation?
- Are you aware that anything you do on your webcam can be saved and sent to anyone?
- How do you think the images or videos you post online can be used to hurt you?
Most of the information on this page if from netsmartz.org. For more information or resources please check out their website.