How to Protect your Children from Online Dangers?
The Internet is the right place to learn and communicate with friends and family, but it is not just about good stuff. All types of people use the internet including criminals and sick minded people. These types of people keep looking for new victims on the internet. They look for people who are easy to exploit, especially children.
Cyber-molesters search for kids as they can easily be manipulated using social engineering. These fraudsters can lure your kid into sexual and criminal activity. They can use 'get rich quick' schemes and asks them to create fake Ids, selling stolen items, spreading fake news. Such actions could put you and your children in immense danger. Cybercriminals use kids so that they don’t get caught.
In this article, we will be discussing the dangers of the internet to your child and how you can protect your kids. We will also discuss some steps to take if your kid is a victim.
The Dangers of the Internet to your Child
Dangers of the internet are unlimited, in the United States 95% of the schools are connected with the internet, and over 45 million children use it. The study shows that 1 in 4 children have found unwanted pornography and 1 in 5 kids have been sexually solicited on the internet. Let’s look at some common dangers to kids online.
Bullying is a serious issue, it affects the mindset of the kid and blocks their progress. The child may suffer depression, anxiety and in severe cases suicidal. Since, youngsters spend more time on the internet, the chances of bullying online increases. Physically there are many things you can do if you kid faces bullying in school and neighborhood, but there are less actionable steps in the cases of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is when someone uses the internet to harass the kid and make them feel sad, angry, and scared. It can happen in several forms.
Another type of danger online is hacking the webcam of the computer and recording the kid’s activity. Attackers could hack the webcam or connected devices and record the personal time of your child. They could upload these recordings on the website or could use it to blackmail the kid.
Online predators are usually older people who befriend with the kids and make them do inappropriate things. Typically, online predators use popular gaming platform to communicate with youngsters. They share their experiences with the kids to build a trusting relationship. Predators can make a strong bond with teenagers using their gaming skills. It further leads the kid to do inappropriate things including sexual conversations with the kid.
Privacy is the biggest concern for your kid online. Youngsters didn’t know the danger of revealing their personal information on the internet, or simply they didn’t bother. They tend to create usernames with their real name and location. Kids are innocent, and they didn’t understand how much worse is this world and what could happen if they reveal the personal details.
Various social and gaming platforms are filled with people who hunt for this kind of information. They start the conversation with the kid casually and then start asking for personal information in the chat. It has also seen that teenagers reveal too much on the internet than mature people.
Another danger for the children online is the hidden charges of premium services. If your kid has access to credit card, it could be even worse. Lots of scamming website and games didn’t reveal the actual cost of the subscription, and when the kid enters the credit card details, they charge more than mentioned. Various games have an in-app purchase to let the kids spend money on features like extra points or gold coins. Your kid is at high risk of getting fraud online.
Even the mature people are affected with this kind of danger. Children are much exposed to the malicious software as they like to explore various websites and software. They don’t even bother to download the app from the official website. There are lots of malicious software (Malware) that helps criminals to get the access to the personal information and all over the computer.
How to Protect your Child from Online Dangers?
When it comes to protecting kids from online dangers, parents have shown less interest. Youngsters know internet more than adults this is the reason parents didn’t want to bother them. A study shows that in the United States 20% of the parents didn’t monitor the internet use for the kids at all. Only 52% of the parents moderately observe the internet use for the children. 62% of kids admitted that their parents didn’t know about the websites they visit.
With so much rise in the internet crime and children being number 1 victim, these facts are shocking. Parents need to monitor the activity of the kids on the internet and protect them from the online dangers. If you are concerned about the safety of your kid online, then you can follow below tips to protect them.
Put Computers/Tablet in the Public Area of the House
Kids tend to use harmful websites when they are alone. So, don’t put a PC, laptop, or tablets in their bedroom. Put it in the living room where you can watch the activity of your child. Even your presence in the room stops children from doing nasty things on the internet. Make sure the screen of the computer is not towards a wall, and it is visible from the all the corners of the room.
Improve your Knowledge of Internet and Computers
Most children admit that their parents didn’t know much about the internet, so they can’t understand what we are doing. It is true if you don’t know how computers and internet work then how you are going to monitor the activity of your kid. If you don’t know anything about computers at all then you can join a computer class, there is nothing to be ashamed, computers weren’t in your time, so you have to learn about them now. You can also learn more about the security of your computers online. You can take help of search engines and type your query, and you will get everything.
Discuss Online Dangers with your Kids
Now you know about the computers and the internet so you can discuss them with your children. They might not be aware of these threats, or they might know and didn’t care much. You need to address the outcomes of these dangers and how to avoid them. Your kid will feel open to discuss these kinds of technical terms with you, and it will also encourage them to report if anything happens online.
Set a Time Limit of Internet Usage
You cannot wholly block the internet, and you can also not leave it on all the time. Setting a reasonable time limit to the internet usage helps kids to focus on important things rather than lurking on unsafe websites. Set a rule and discuss it with your children and tell them how much it is essential to limit the internet usage. Also, ask them how much time they need. Then set a time limit and let everyone follow the same. It is crucial that you also follow the same rule. If there is a need, then you can put the internet router in your room and turn it off after the time limit.
Spend More Time with your Child
Spending time with children creates a strong bond between them and you. They will feel less urge to connect with strangers and pass the time on the internet. You can play offline games with them, talk to them, or can watch a movie together. Children love the technology so if you need a topic to start the conversation initially, then discuss a new game, website or other latest techs and see how successful the conversation goes.
Connect with your Children Online
Once you have built a good relationship with your children, they will not hesitate to connect with you online. You have discussed internet dangers and privacy risks, so you can tell them if they didn’t want you to see a post or picture of them in the social media then it should not be there. Please make sure to tell them why.
Tell them Things on Internet never get Deleted
Children didn’t know the complexities of the internet world. Teach them that they can not post identifying information like age, gender, address, and other personal information publicly on the internet and the reason behind it. Tell them that the information that they post on the internet doesn’t get deleted easily. Also, tell them if they are unsure about anything, then ask you.
Beware the Kids about Online Chat Rooms and Strangers
Here you need to apply the ‘don’t talk to a stranger’ rule even for the internet. Talk to your kid and tell them why they shouldn’t talk to a stranger. Also aware them of the dangers of the online chat rooms. Tell them not to accept strangers friend request and confirm with the person before accepting if they seem familiar.
Actions to Take if your Kid is a Victim of Cyberbullying
Now you know about the dangers and what you could do to protect your kids from it, but what if your kid is a victim of these online dangers. What would you do? Let’s start with how to know if the kid is affected.
How to Know if your Kid is Affected?
Specific behavioral changes can be used to identify if there is something wrong.
Talk to Kid and Convince to take you control of the Situation
Once you know that something is wrong, then don’t panic and talk with the kid. Try to start the conversation with a cyberbullying story you heard on the news. Then ask them if there is something like this with them. If it doesn’t open the kid, then you can take control of the situation by accessing the history on the computer and smartphone.
Collect Proofs and Contact Parents, School, and Officials if Necessary
Take screenshots of the bullying incidents and print them. If it is a video, then you can use it digitally. Your first step towards this should be a warning signal to the bullies. Ask your kid to let the bullies know that my parents have administrator rights to my computers and they can see everything. If this doesn’t stop the activity, then you can contact the parents of bullies and tell them about it and how it is affecting your kid.
If talking to parents doesn’t help then you can contact the schools where the bullies are, show them the proofs you collect. Schools have strict policies against such incidents, and they take actions. After all these actions, if such activity doesn’t stop, then you can contact police officials. Take collected proofs with you and lodge a complaint, meanwhile, keep talking with your children to ease them that everything is going to be fine.
To avoid such circumstances and have better control over what your kid see and what not you can consider using parental controls. Parental controls are easy to implement and provide better safety on the different levels.
Facts and Statistics are taken from San Diego County District Attorney (SCDCA) website.