As kids, we didn’t have the Internet. The Internet was a brand new concept, something that we slowly transitioned into. But kids today? They’re growing up with the Internet. It’s there from the day they’re born.
Because of this, kids are often putting themselves in danger online. After all, they might not know the various dangers that lurk online or how to protect themselves. And these dangers are increasing. Cybercriminals know that many kids have unlimited access to the Internet, so kids often become prime targets. Let’s go over a few risks affecting children and what can be done to protect them.
3 Major Risks our Children Face Online
Bullying hurts thousands of kids per year and can have severe, negative consequences, ranging from social isolation to mental health issues that can spawn later in life. And cyberbullying is no different, except that it’s even harder to avoid.
Cyberbullying takes many forms, from snarky, passive-aggressive social media comments to floods of personal messages containing rude, insensitive content. And unlike real-life bullying, cyberbullying can follow someone anywhere.
It’s important that kids are protected from any sort of bullying since bullying can impact kids’ development and mental health for years to come.
2. Online Predators
On the Internet, no one knows who you are. You’re anonymous. The only way people will know who you are is if you tell them outright. And while this sounds great in theory, practice shows that criminals and online predators exploit the anonymity to approach children.
The term “online predators” refers to adults who seek out children online. They lurk on social media sites and chat rooms, aiming to seduce their targets through attention and flattery. Some predators would impersonate other youths to earn the trust of victims.
As children drop their guard, online predators would introduce sexual content and lure them into cooperating. This is a severe issue in the country, especially during the lockdown where children can get bored and curious.
3. Scammers and Fraudsters
Predators aren’t the only people targeting children online. Many scammers view children as malleable, susceptible to tricks and scams. As a result, many kids find themselves victims of scammers.
These scams range from phishing scams (scams that trick users into giving away information) to scams involving in-game currencies. Currency scams trick kids into entering payment information for “free video game currencies”. The kid ends up with nothing, and the scammer gets a free credit card.
Ways To Keep Your Child Safe Online
Fortunately, despite the threats facing children, it’s possible to protect your children and guarantee them a safe online experience. Here are just a few ways to keep your child safe online.
Teach Your Children about Proper Internet Safety
The first thing you should is to sit your children down and talk to them about proper online safety. Kids are kids—they don’t possess an inherent knowledge about what’s safe and what’s not.
Telling your kids about the importance of strong passwords or sharing with them the dangers of the Internet and what could happen to them is vital to them staying safe while online. This isn’t the only thing you should do, but it’s a great first step.
Install a VPN on Their Device
While there are other security tools you should have your children use, such as anti-virus software and password managers, a VPN is a one-click solution for children to protect their device.
VPNs, short for Virtual Private Network, encrypt your online traffic and replace your IP address with that of a VPN server location. This prevents people from tracking your children down with information on their physical location.
Take Advantage of Parental Controls
Most devices nowadays come with parental controls, settings that allow parents to limit what their kid can access, how long they can access apps and services, and prevent in-app purchases.
Parental controls are easy to set up and are difficult to crack, so enabling these controls is a must if your children spend a lot of their time on their devices.
Monitor Your Kid’s Online Activity
It’s important you give your children space online. Looking over their shoulders 24/7 can become problematic and give them the feeling you don’t trust them. That said, you should monitor your kid’s online activity from time to time.
Every once in a while, take a look at what your children have been searching for, downloading, viewing, etc. Also, do this if you are suspicious that they’re doing something wrong or negligent.
Again, don’t do this 24/7, but do it on occasion so that you know what your kids are up to.
Veto What Your Children Download
Lastly, you need to set yourself up as an authority on what your kids view and download. Again, giving them a sense of freedom is important, but don’t let them stray too far.
Have them ask for your permission before they download something. Before they visit a website, take a glance at it and decide whether or not it’s suitable for children. You are the adult, you are the authority, and it’s up to you to decide what your kids are allowed to access and what’s safe for them.