Online safety is a top priority for most parents who want their children to be digitally conscious, but also want them safe from cyber threats.
The Internet today is more widespread than it ever was. There used to be a time when you had to visit cyber cafes or to turn on the incredibly slow dial-up connections to be able to connect with the World Wide Web. There were fewer applications on the Internet than there are today, and even these were too complex to be meddled with by children.
Now, the Internet is accessible from almost anywhere. You can access it from your home, or outside in coffeehouses, and via 3G/LTE networks. Because of this improvement in accessibility, more and more applications are emerging every year, each putting their focus on children and teenagers.
While these apps help improve the communication skills and creativity of most children, dangers still exist, which can even be fatal for children at times! Don’t know where to start? Fret not! In this in-depth guide, you’ll find all the information you need on keeping children safe online:
How Dangerous can the Internet be for Your Child?
The Internet is considered one of the best mediums for children and their learning needs. There are dozens of videos on YouTube, as well as specialized content on websites like Khan Academy, from where your child can learn essential skills. Similarly, there are also online games available that can help sharpen the reflexes and abilities of children.
But while the Internet can be so helpful for the development of your children, it can also prove to be just as dangerous for their safety. The following are some dangers associated with the Internet:
Children who are part of social media are often subjected to cyberbullying. Most of all, cyberbullying take place on either social media or on live chats in online games. School mates often mock children on social media. The competitive nature of most online games can turn an imaginative adventure into a humiliating ordeal.
The Internet is filled with predators who stalk children on the web in hopes of taking advantage of their innocence. They connect with them via smart means, often creating fake profiles to achieve this objective. They gain trust and ultimately lure them into dangerous personal encounters. You can follow Vivian Kwek’s story, whose daughter found herself in just this kind of a situation.
- Posting Private Information
Like many grown-ups, children, too, find it difficult to understand social boundaries. They may post personal information online, which can get them into trouble. Hackers are always on the lookout to get their hands on this information to learn more about a person or family and take advantage.
Phishing is the use of emails to spread malware onto multiple devices and systems. Most of the time, phishing happens via email or messages on social media. Children are unaware of the threats posed by phishing, so in their innocence, they often click on links or files sent via phishing.
- Falling for Scams
Children are especially fond of winning rewards and prizes. We’re all aware of scams that make rounds on the Internet every day. While we may be able to avoid such scams, children can easily fall for them. Like phishing, cybercriminals like to offer free prizes if someone accesses a particular website, downloads a malware program, or fills in a form containing their personal information.
- Accidentally Downloading Malware
Malware is a program that can infect any device and can steal private information without your knowledge. Malware exists for various reasons. Some are built to destroy machines. Others have more stealthy features that allow them to hide in any device and steal any files and information it can get its hands on.
- Posts that Come Back to Haunt a Child Later in Life
There are no delete keys on the Internet. Anything child posts online are nearly impossible to remove later. There are many ways to restore deleted content on the web, which can harm a child when he/she grows up and applies for a job, or maybe foreign citizenship.
Online Security Tips That You Should Follow!
Considering the online dangers listed above, the following tips will help you and your kids avoid the risks present on the Internet:
- Teach your kids a few basic guidelines for using the Internet.
First of all, you need to set up some ground rules and educate your children on what online security is. This can be done by telling them a few basic guidelines. You can start by saying to them that nothing on the Internet remains 100% private.
Learn more internet safety guidelines for kids.
- Tell them not to disclose personal information.
Educate your child about the importance of personal information. Draw up a list and tell them to always consult with you before sharing this information. Talk through scenarios where personal sharing information could lead to adverse outcomes.
Learn more about how to protect personal information online.
- Password Security.
It’s easy for children to create email accounts these days. You need to tell your children about the importance of password security. Tell them to never share their passwords with anyone, not even their friends.
You also need to advise them to keep different passwords for different accounts so that if one gets compromised, the other remains secure.
Learn more about password security.
- Advise them against exposing too much.
Children share all kinds of emotions on social media these days. This is especially dangerous since many social networking sites “sell” personal information of their users to businesses.
Extreme emotions can go against your children later on in their lives. Therefore, you need to guide them to be selective while sharing feelings and only disclose them in their trusted circles.
Learn more about tips to stay safe on social media.
- Dangers associated with texting.
Though WhatsApp and Viber are encrypted, other messaging apps are still not secure. Sharing private information and details using these apps is incredibly risky.
Therefore, you need to advise your children to avoid sharing personal or bank details or any other sensitive information like passwords via messages.
Learn about encrypted messaging apps from here.
- Public Wi-Fi security.
Children love free Wi-Fi, but they are not aware of the dangers associated with unsecured networks. You need to explain to your kids the risks of using public Wi-Fi and advise them always to be cautious.
Learn about Public WiFi Security.
- Beware of strangers!
There are plenty of chat rooms and forums on the Internet. Kids are always eager to discuss their interests with peers. However, getting too friendly with strangers can have adverse effects.
Learn more about cyberbullying from here.
8. Limit your children’s web usage
Set caps on your children’s internet usage. By doing so, you’re not only doing them a favor but yourself as well. Smartphone companies such as Apple have now been working on screen time, which gives parents control over how their children use apps and the Internet on their phones.
The graph shows that more than 40% of people are bullied on Instagram. This can be attributed to the fact that the social networking service hosts a plethora of pictures and videos as opposed to Twitter which accounts for 9% only.
This goes to show that the more the visuals, the more there are chances of cyberbullying and cyberstalking. So it is better to keep your kids away from such social media apps.
You can easily delete the instagram account if you have decided to take serious actions for your children’s privacy.
The psychological impacts of cyberbullying and cyberstalking on a young child’s mind are detrimental. Kids who face these nuisances often isolate themselves and tend to reserve their feelings regarding the virtual atrocities they continually face online.
This may escalate to an extent where children don’t feel safe about anything at all. They start to shy away from people and inflict harm on themselves.
A little knowledge about today’s online privacy situation can save your child from the unbearable strain. Being careful about your privacy and having safety systems, like using a premium VPN service, will help in maintaining internet safety for children.