Top Ways to Secure Children Online

child-safety-onlineThe Internet is a powerful platform for studying, communication and entertainment. Nevertheless, it presents an adult world with 18+ content and hidden online dangers our kids are not ready to see yet.

The recent survey tells that modern children spend almost 4 hours a day browsing the Internet, with 70% of the time via their smartphones. Altogether, 82% of kids in the USA own a smartphone making it the most common medium for cyber dangers.

Online threats have to be taken into account the same way as the offline ones, especially when it comes to children. There are three most widely spread cyber dangers in the Internet: cyberbullying, sexting and online predators. Each of the dangers has led to serious social and physiological problems and in the recent years, even deaths.

Cyberbullying is pretty much traditional one, only this time kids harass and torment each other via chats and comments in Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, IM chats and regular texting. It is believed that traditional bullying stops when kids graduate from high school, with cyberbullying there is practically no escape. The problem was firstly raised by McAffee chief privacy officer in 2012. In her interview, she stated that 9 out of 10 kids suffer from cyberbullying without their parents knowing. The top cyberbullying facts reveal that:

  • 43% of kids have been bullied online
  • 75% witnessed online bullying but were too afraid to do anything
  • Online victims are 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide
  • Online 2 in 10 victims inform their parents

Sexting is a new word of sexually explicit messages that children (9-17) exchange via IM chats, email or social media. And, although there are a lot of debates around this problem there is one thing that scares both parents and teachers: once the image is online, it leaves a digital footprint, which can never be deleted. There are two vivid sexting dangers:

  1. Kids sent partially nude/nude photos and videos to their boyfriends and girlfriends who share it online soon after the relationship is over.
  2. Children often fall for online predators that hide under the images of young boys. Soon after a predator receives a photo or video, he blackmails his victim to send him more.

The problem was raised to the governmental level in Canada in 2012, when Amanda Todd, known throughout the world because of her Help me video, committed suicide because of sexting. Children are too young to understand that their actions can lead to dreadful consequences that can influence their education, career, and even private life.

Contacts with online predators probably don’t need much of explanation. It works according to an old scheme: predators hide under images of young boys or girls and “friend” children in social media. After they curry children’s favor, they ask them to meet each other in real life. And although we think that we educate our children and tell them everything about the dangers of talking to strangers online, there are cases that prove us wrong. The recent social experiment conducted by an online journalist Cody Persin showed that 3 out of 3 well-behaved kids agreed to meet an online stranger after chatting with him for only 3 days. All of the girls come from descent families, and all parents who participated in the experiment were sure that their kids won’t meet the stranger as they taught them everything about the Internet dangers.

Being parents, it is our responsibility to protect and secure children both offline and online. To do so, you can follow these simple steps mentioned below:

Talk to your child. Ask what your child knows about cyber dangers. Ask if your child has a friend who is being bullied online. This way you will understand how much your child is involved in cyber dangers. Explain the consequences of chatting with strangers and exchanging photos. Let your child know that each message sent online leaves a digital footprint that cannot be deleted.

Monitor activity. Doubtless, we all trust our children but can we trust all Internet users? Using Android parental control apps allows you to monitor social media activity and Internet usage. You can block 18+ websites, applications and set alerts for messages that contain nude pictures, curse words and offensive phrases.

Play celebrity card. Modern kids are following their favorite stars in everything. Luckily, teen celebrities like Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus participate in the anti-bullying league. They share personal stories of being bullied both online and offline and explain online dangers via Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These examples can inspire and encourage children to stand up to online dangers.

While you can think that your kid is different and that nothing from above mentioned could happen to them, you should remember that you can and should trust your child; it is the other users you should be afraid of. We need to educate our children and protect them both online and offline.

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