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The 5 Biggest Online Risks for Children

How to keep your children safe

The Internet can be a dangerous place for young children and teenagers. Kids don’t know the consequences of sharing things online. Everything they share can be used against them later in life. They can also expose their family to online risks without them knowing. By accidentally downloading malware, cybercriminals can get access to their parents’ banking accounts or other sensitive information.

 

The protection of children on the Internet is mainly a matter of awareness. They need to know what dangers are out there and how to defend themselves against it. Cybersecurity tools can help, but the most important protection is understanding the main issues yourself as a parent, and then discussing these risks with your children.

1. Cyberbullying

According to recent studies, 90% of teenagers ignore cyberbullying. One-third of them became victims of online bullying. Social media and online games have become the virtual playgrounds of today, and it won’t surprise you that this is the place where bullying takes place. The best countermeasure for cyberbullying is engaging with your children. Get to know what is happening in their life and let them know how to defend themselves against bullies. 

2. Private Information 

Infants don’t fully understand social boundaries yet. They probably share personal information on their social media channels that shouldn’t be shared publicly. Examples include pictures that identify their face, awkward personal moments, and home addresses.

Whenever your children shares something, you can almost always see it too. It doesn’t hurt to tell them that if you can see it, everyone can see it. Don’t spy on them, instead, talk to your kids about public boundaries. If you wouldn’t be comfortable with your future boss seeing it online, it might not be appropriate for the Internet.

3. Phishing

Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details by disguising oneself as a trustworthy entity in electronic communication, mainly email. 

Anyone can be the victim of phishing, but cybercriminals mainly target children and elderly people by using the names of friends or family as a disguise. Teach your kids not to click on emails from strangers and warn them of strangers acting like their friends. 

4. Accidentally Downloading Malware

Malware is malicious software that self-installs without consent from the victim and is intentionally designed to cause damage to a computer or server. Cybercriminals try to convince users to download the malware themselves, for instance, by phishing. An example of a phishing email may be one claiming to be from your bank or Google claiming you just need to “click this link” due to an account issue. Even downloading certain video games can spread a virus on your computer. This can be very tempting to children.

Talking with your children and warning them about these dangers is the best way to deal with this problem. Downloading anti-malware software or other security tools can also protect the device your child is using. A lot of products also have specific functions for parental supervision, which gives you the opportunity to create a safe framework for the online activity of your kids.

5. Content that can backfire later in life

The Internet doesn’t have a delete button. Everything your child shares online is almost impossible to delete in the future. Teenagers, in particular, don’t reflect on the reaction their future boss or partner might have about their ‘funny’ pictures or other personal content they share on their social media channels or other websites.

Inform your children and explain why it’s dangerous to fully expose yourself online. Teach them that they can always change their appearance, but never on the Internet.

 

The Internet is full of dangers for children. It also brings marvelous opportunities that previous generations could only dream of. Make sure your children enjoy the positive side of the Web, not the negative.


1
Enough. (2020). Enough Is Enough: Cyberbullying. Retrieved March 10, 2020, from https://enough.org/stats_cyberbullying

2 Wikipedia contributors. (2020, March 6). Phishing. Retrieved March 10, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phishing

3 Wikipedia contributors. (2020a, March 2). Malware. Retrieved March 10, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malware

4 Singapore International School. (2020). SIS Schools. Retrieved March 10, 2020, from https://sisschools.org/