Connectivity enriches lives. Children today are more receptive and appreciative of the wonders that technology is able to bring to our lives. However, the online sphere is not always as friendly and safe as we would like to believe. Oftentimes, children are exposed to content negative content which might influence them. From cyberbullying to online predators, fraud attempts, exposure to harmful content, children can fall victims of a variety of types of negative online content.
Falling into a particularly vulnerable category of online users, children need extra protection when using smart devices connected to the internet. However, parents and teachers can work together to eliminate the risks described above and keep children safe and sound when using the internet. Use the tips below to make sure that your kids remain safe from various threats even when you’re not closely supervising them.
Cyberbullying is more common than we would like to admit. Almost 30% of children admit being bullied online at least once. Out of those, only one in them tells their parents or other adults what is happening. The concerning statistics show that cyberbullying victims are two to nine times more likely to attempt suicide. All the data is coming from the Cyberbullying Research Center.
Parents can help their children or others’ by reporting the harassment. Keep reminding your child that as soon as someone sends them offensive messages it’s important for your child to realize that this isn’t a normal occurrence and that they are not alone in this situation. Keep track of all these encounters and report these incidents to the local law enforcement.
When bullying occurs through social media or instant messages, make sure to block the cyberbully as fast as possible and reinforce better privacy options on all their accounts. There are plenty of online resources that you can also use in the process. StopBullying.gov is a great starting point. The platform offers insightful information on how to prevent cyberbullying and help your child avoid such interactions.
Children are also vulnerable online when it comes to identity theft. Although parents usually don’t realize this, children fall victims to identity theft more than we would like to admit. One of the main reasons why identity thieves’ prey on children is due to their clean records and their tendency to post plenty of identifying information about them online. Plus, most parents don’t even think to check their children’s credit report. In some cases, criminals are able to use the information and the child’s identity for years before being discovered.
To keep your children away and safe from such predators, you can take some precautions regarding what they are allowed and not to post online. Things like their full name, address, date of birth and other similar information should never be disclosed online. Make sure that your child never discloses personal information without clearing out with you first. Identity thieves use online surveys and quizzes to steal identities.
There are some warning signs of identity parents should be aware of. Besides, parents should check their children’s credit report at least once a year. This will allow you to act and correct their credit report before it’s too late and it will also help you report scams and identity theft attempts in advance. In some cases, it would be possible to identify the identity thief by finding out what phone number they used when opening their bank accounts. Perform a people search to find out more information on them. You will be provided with plenty of data, varying from businesses to criminal records. There are some valuable tools online that you can use in the process. This will offer you more background when reporting the thieves to law enforcement.
Online Sexual Predators
Most parents are concerned about their children interacting with sexual predators online. Almost 20% of teens today claim that they received unwanted sexual attention and solicitation. Sexual predators use social media to learn more about the children’s preferences, find out where they go to school and their circles. Sexual predators are a legitimate fear that almost half of the US parents have when it comes to their children’s safety.
Parents can try to protect their children from sexual predators by openly discussing the matter whit their children, regardless of their age. This is a thing they have to be up to date with. However, make sure that you use age-appropriate language that your child can easily understand and process. Reassure them that what happens, if it happens, is not their fault and that someone they don’t know initiates inappropriate contact with them. Make sure to teach your child how to set better privacy options on their social media accounts and avoid inappropriate and potentially dangerous contact.
Make sure that you periodically check your child’s online profiles and see if any suspicious activity can be noticed. Any older individuals that aren’t family friends should ring some alarm bells. Talk to your child about anybody whose presence concerns you. Keep a close eye on your child’s browser history and phone calls, as well as their GPS location and text messages.
Password Sharing and Hacking Attempts
Children tend to be extremely trusting with their friends and acquiesces. This is why they sometimes share their social media passwords with their friends. In some cases, this results in the child’s accounts being hacked. Generally, those who steal passwords do it only to share embarrassing information and content on their main accounts. They may even attempt sending disturbing emails to them or their friends and family members.
Parents can help their children to prevent such circumstances by helping them creating difficult and strong passwords. Make sure to remind them that those are for nobody else to be shared with, except for you. Their usernames shouldn’t be easy to guess, either. For instance, a combination of their name and year of birth is incredibly simple to crack.
It is also important to invest in antivirus software. This will help you both make sure that your family’s devices are fully protected against cybercrimes.