The Internet has become an integral part of our lives. Internet usage has grown by almost 3 billion users worldwide in the last 10 years, with a whopping sixty-two per cent of people active. Among these active users are the people that are between ages 3-18.
Unfortunately, exposure to the many benefits of the internet means that they are left vulnerable to cyberattacks. Over the years, cyberattacks, including activities of cyberbullies, online scammers, sexual predators, and hackers, have become more rampant.
Children are impressionable and susceptible to the information they receive, which is why they must be properly monitored, educated on the dangers of using the internet, and how to navigate to avoid harmful content.
3 Risks faced by children
In employing the use of the internet, there are a couple of dangers children are exposed to, some of which are:
•Harmful Content: – Visual representation has been known to be easily assimilated and retained for a longer period. The internet allows people the liberty to express themselves in any way or manner they deem fit. Unfortunately, some of this content may not be suitable for young viewers, the content of a sexual manner – pornography, violence/ gore, or content that depicts harassment, sexism, or even racism.
•Online scammers: – Online scams are pretty popular these days and most adults know most of the indicators to identify them. Children who have not been fully educated on spotting the red flags in a conversation with a scammer may easily fall prey to their tricks and even send them money or their parent’s credit card information.
•Cyber Bullies and Predators – cyberbullying is a real problem today. A research found that nearly half of all teenagers have been bullied via the internet, on group chat forums, or online game voice chats. Besides bullies, there are also disturbed people with twisted sexual fantasies looking to form friendships and take advantage of children. They operate with ease, given the anonymity that the internet provides.
These dangers can scar a child, and in the process, mar their development into healthy and fully functioning adults. Fortunately, the next few points will be aimed at addressing some of these risks, and the steps parents can take to monitor, educate, and protect their children from harm.
3 Respective measures for parents to help their children stay safe
•Teaching – Parents have to teach their children most of what they need to know on sensitive topics. Topics that have to do with social cues, sensitive topics, and how to relate with people must be extensively explained to the children to prevent them from learning the wrong things from people on the internet.
They must also be taught how to spot signs of online scammers, cyber bullies, sexual predators, and how to report them; this teaching should also entail ways to stand up for themselves against bullies on the internet.
•Parental Control – Aside from teaching the children, parents must take steps to ensure that a curious child is not allowed access to potentially harmful content by setting parental control options on the television and other smart devices with access to the internet.
•VPNs – Another way to ensure your child’s safety while using the internet is to install a VPN for protection. The VPN creates a private connection between your child’s device and the internet. This secures their personal information especially when they connect to Wi-Fi networks at school or other public places.
The threat of cyberattacks is very much real, and it is the duty of the parents to stay informed about new threats and how to effectively tackle them for the safety and good of their children