Does your teenager have a webcam?

A webcam is a small camera that can be connected to your computer. These cameras let Internet users view other people and places over their computers. Webcam users can broadcast themselves, record videos, or stream video in real time. They are used in the business world for teleconferences and video chats, used by marketers to film product videos, and used by teens to socialize with their friends.

The cameras are quite cheap, and can be purchased at nearly any office supply store for around $30. They are easy to install – often plug and play, and within the budget and capabilities of most teenagers.

Webcams can pose a risk to your teenager, however. It’s easier than you’d think for a predator to convince your teenager to film themselves or transmit video of themselves. Without knowing it, your teenager could be providing fodder for a pedophile or end up on a pornography site.

Internet predators can also use the cameras to transmit videos of themselves. With just a few clicks, they can stream pornographic content directly to your child’s instant messaging program. The cameras are often used to send images of adults and teens engaged in sexual activities, in an attempt to normalize this type of behavior.

Webcams have also been used by teenagers to film illegal activities. YouTube is full of videos of teens drinking, showing off in sexy clothing, and assaulting each other. Most of these videos were filmed with webcams, then uploaded to the site. It’s easier than ever for your teen to be a “star”, and more difficult than ever to remove the video once it’s up. Remember – the internet is forever, and this includes videos.

If you have a webcam in your home, it may be wise to remove it from your computer and only use it when necessary. If your teen’s computer or laptop has a built in webcam, you’ll have to get more creative. Set clear guidelines and rules for internet use, with strict consequences if the rules are broken. It’s even more important to educate your child about how to use a webcam properly, how to respect the privacy of others, and what to do if someone asks them to transmit a video of themselves.

Internet videos are especially appealing to predators, and if they find out your teenager has a webcam, they may approach him or her. It’s important that you educate your teenager about this very real danger, and emphasize how important it is for them to tell you if they are approached online. Doing so is a key part of keeping your teen safe on the internet.

Have a great day!

Lawrence