Children are among the most active internet users and, unfortunately, they are exposed to a range of online threats. If you are allowing your children to spend significant time online, it is important to know what threats they will face there and how to deal with them. Here are some of the most common online threats to children – knowing them will help you keep your children safe:
Content unsuitable for children
The internet is full of „inappropriate content”. It is possible that your children are consciously searching for this content or that they come across it unintentionally. Anyway, it is very easy to find such websites if the content is not blocked. Invest in parental control software like Norton Family to block websites you don’t want your children to visit. Another option is to use a kid-friendly browser that will automatically block websites that are unsuitable for children. It also helps you keep track of your kids' online activities or check their browsing history to see which websites they visit. Moving the computer in a room where most of the family will be is also a good idea.
„Friends” in chat rooms
Some pedophiles hang out in chat rooms or on social media trying to find young children. They pretend they are the same age and try to meet the children personally at some point. Fake profiles are easy to set up. It is therefore important that you, as parents, warn your children about this danger. Discuss the warning signs with them and emphasize that your child can come to you at any time. Encourage your children to only interact with people they know on the Internet, such as friends and relatives. Also, point out to them that it can be very dangerous to meet in person with someone you only know online.
Just as pedophiles no longer have to go out of the house to approach children, bullying also works without any problems without perpetrators and victims facing each other. Cyberbullying is sadly commonplace on social media these days and causes just as much damage as any other form of bullying. This is sure to be one of the toughest challenges, and one of the solutions is to stop your kids from setting up social media profiles. Explain to them that they can create a profile when they are older. If you can’t prevent a profile, remind your kids that they can come over to you anytime they are being bullied online or offline. After all, you can only do something if you know about such an incident.
While it is widely believed that online scams are primarily aimed at older adults, children are also very susceptible to it. One of the most common forms of online fraud is email claiming that you have won a large amount of money and can „get that” profit „for a fee, or websites that offer something for a low price without specifying what it is – virtually any offer that is extremely cheap or even free is suspect.
Only with thorough education can problems with online fraud be prevented. So explain the warning signs to your children. Also, emphasize that they should never buy anything online without first speaking to you, and make sure they don’t click on suspicious links. The more your kids know, the better – after all, you don’t want your family computer inadvertently infected with a virus or otherwise lost money.
Don’t forget: as parents, you control the extent to which your children use the Internet. Your kids don’t necessarily have to own smartphones. Simple flip phones for emergencies and calling friends are more than sufficient. Your kids don’t need to have social media accounts either – there are plenty of internet-based activities that can wait until they’re older. Now your kids should play outside and just … be kids!