Parents’ Guide To Protecting Children From Online Dangers
The internet and devices greatly help families connect with each other and other connections they have around the world. They can text, call, email, video chat, private messages, and connect with others on social media to communicate.
The technology is one of the most useful innovations to all people, especially families. However, it does have a dark side. Criminals are using technology to their advantage to take advantage of and target all online people, including children. Continue reading to learn how to protect children from online dangers.
Kids’ Virtual Playground; Cybercriminals’ Hunting Ground
Prior to the digital age, predators used to look for and target children at playgrounds, parks, malls, or even schools. They were patiently waiting for the right moment to lure these kids from their parents or guardians.
Nowadays, children spend more time online than outdoors. However, this doesn’t mean they’re safe from these predators. Predators and other online criminals have adjusted with the times and leverage the internet for their needs. In fact, cyberstalking is easier as there are usually no witnesses. In the virtual world, here are the common platforms where these predators are lurking.
Social networking sites have billions of users, making it an ideal venue to hunt. The most popular platforms used by kids and criminals today are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat. All these criminals have to do is create a well-crafted fake account to bait naive or careless children. As friendly as they may seem, social media is susceptible to dangers posed by predators, scammers, hackers, and more.
Children today often play video games online or on their gaming console. This is why hackers favor gaming sites in spreading malware. They usually use free character skins or level upgrades to lure gamers into clicking and joining their network.
A dating site is a common area for people, mostly teens, who are looking for “adventure” or to rebel. Fraudsters, however, use these sites to play with people’s emotions, making it easier for them to execute their crimes such as sextortion and catfishing. .
Private Messaging Apps
Kids no longer text or call using their phone numbers. They use private messaging apps because of their illusion of “freedom”. Little do they know, identity thieves and other criminals utilize these for the same reason – anonymity.
The Costs of These Online Dangers
The thing with cybercrimes is that they are, most of the time, strategically and brilliantly laid out. The dangers are usually right under our noses and we don’t recognize these before it’s too late and it costs us something.
Online scams have become rampant – from identity theft to credit card fraud to investment swindles. Online thieves target children not because they have the money they need, but because they could be the weakest link to your home or network security. This is specifically true if you’re sharing with your kids the same device that you’re using with your bank transactions or business deals. Also, if these criminals steal your child’s identity or take out loans or credit cards in their name, it will usually take longer for you to find out.
Children’s behaviors are somehow affected by the stuff they see online, changing their ideals, their beliefs, and their characters. If not properly guided or immediately corrected, these things could consume them, eventually rewiring their mentality.
Their online behavior will soon manifest to their real-life attitudes. They may start to compare themselves to people they meet online. They also may start to question their own preferences and skills. The “normalcy” they view online can subconsciously mess up their inner peace, questions their lifestyle, and negatively impact their mindset.
Children online are not immune to bullying or shaming. In fact, cyberbullying cases continue to rise. Other online users tend to forget that there are humans on the other end of the device. They get carried away and trash talk about someone, forgetting that they are talking about a real person. Online bullies can inflict emotional pain, including humiliation, powerlessness, and suicidal thoughts.
There are also internet trolls who go a long way just to falsify or discredit other people’s statements. They make a huge deal out of what is supposed to be just a simple “thumb down react”.
What Parents’ Can Do To Protect Their Children
Aside from network security loopholes like unpatched safety software, online predators and criminals target vulnerable users like children. Kids nowadays may be more tech-savvy, but they don’t have a full grasp of how technology works, online dangers, and the consequences of their online activities. Hence, it’s the parents’ job to educate and ensure that their kids stay safe online.
Talk to your kids and verbally guide them to proper online and device etiquette. Make them understand that real dangers are lurking on the World Wide Web and that they have to proactively protect themselves. Advise them that as much as possible, they shouldn’t entertain or talk with strangers. If there’s a need to, instruct them to consult you first.
Provide them a list of online safety precautionary measures that they can use like not clicking on links they receive, or not to download anything without your permission. Give them a clear picture of what’s appropriate and what’s not. Most importantly, assure them that they can talk to you anytime.
Before handing an electronic device to your kids, ensure to “children-proof” it first. Parental controls allow parents to restrict, limit, and oversee their child’s device and internet activities.
For example, this may include:
- Restricting access to unsafe sites and the ability to block inappropriate content.
- Lock or hide the settings so that your child cannot change them
- Ensure that only kid-friendly apps and programs are installed on their device.
Otherwise, it’s important to regularly check their phones, computers, or laptops. When you do, however, assure them that you need physical access to their devices only to ensure their safety, and not invade their privacy.
There are several cell phone monitoring apps available on the market, making it possible for parents to remotely monitor their child’s device and online activity. Depending on the package you purchase, you can track their text messages, call logs, search and browser history, photos, videos, social media, and apps. You may also be able to remotely take pictures or lock their device.
These smart software programs offer detailed monitoring and real-time tracking. These advanced technologies can certainly put parents at ease, relieving them of worries from online dangers that are simply out of their control.
Outdoor Activities & Hobbies
Limiting your kids’ screen time would be less challenging if you encourage other activities. For instance, you can schedule regular trips or activities so that they’ll have something to look forward to or prepare for. You can help them figure out their passion and encourage them to pursue it like, per se, playing basketball, painting, skateboarding, or trying a musical instrument.
Also, assigning them some household chores with positive reinforcement could help like cleaning their room or doing the dishes. Otherwise, give them an activity that will gain their interest like reading a book or doing a puzzle.
Technology itself is not a bad thing. It’s the people who are using technology for their selfish purposes and inappropriate intentions that make it dangerous. Nevertheless, you don’t need to confiscate your child’s devices or fully restrict them from accessing the internet. You simply have to educate them. Teach them etiquette, courtesy, and respect – not just online, but in their day-to-day encounter with people.
- The most common threats children face online
- Why Spy Cell Phone Tracker Apps Are Parents’ Wisest Investment
- Online Risks Are Everyday Events for Teens — But They Rarely Tell Their Parents
- Tips For Creating A Cell Phone Contract For Your Kids
- Teaching kids about Internet safety
- Data Privacy 101
- How To Reduce Screen Time
- Top 7 Dangers Children Face Online
- Gaming Parental Controls
- Internet Safety Tips For Teenagers