As a parent, we always want what’s best for our children. We protect them in every way that we possibly can, however when it comes to the dangers of the internet we can’t always be there to protect them. In today’s digital world they are likely to be exposed to various forms of technology every day. Between school, home, their peers and other public internet access points our children are using the Internet more frequently than ever.
Teaching your children to be responsible online is the first step to helping them avoid being put into a compromising position online. By acting as their media mentor, you can help them learn to navigate their way out of these situations without fear.
What they could be exposed to:
As with most things in life, it’s important to start with educating yourself on the potential dangers your child could be exposed to and what that means for their well-being. Here are a few of the most common problems children face in today’s digital world…
- Cyberbullying – When children are communicating through online platforms and social media sites they could be facing cyberbullies. These might be their peers or other online members who choose to abuse and degrade someone through the internet. This has become a growing issue over the last decade and in some situations has even become serious. Cyberbullying has become more prevalent recently because of its anonymity and the minimized risk of getting caught. A cyberbully is able to hide behind their computer screen rather than on the playground or in the classroom face to face.
- Online Predators – Unfortunately, there are people who lurk on the internet to take advantage of children’s trust and innocence. They will often hang out in chat rooms, on video games, and on social media sites. They attempt to gain a child’s trust by establishing a friendship or relationship with them before luring them into meeting in person.
- Scams – Tricking kids into scams through the internet is a popular tactic many cyber attackers use. It will often come in the form of a free game download, extra lives in a game or foreign offers and opportunities to win a big trip. They will ask for something in return such as a parents credit card or other personal information. Knowing that young children are more likely to fall victim to these types of attacks, scammers will find creative ways to trick them.
- Revealing Personal Information – Children are more vulnerable to post their personal information online. It often happens in situations where a child forgets that something may be dangerous. It could be sharing their address publicly, using their birthdate on a social profile or posting a photo that contains personal information. Posts that your kids use now could come back to haunt them later in life.
Becoming a Media Mentor
Rather than fearing the dangers that your children may be facing online, take the time to learn the best ways to mentor and protect them in a digital setting. Start by being a role model for them by following healthy digital habits yourself. Children will follow in your footsteps. Limit your screen time, use good practices when protecting your digital identity and test the apps/social media websites that your children are using for yourself. Seeing first hand that you care about internet safety will make your children more likely to follow the guidelines you have set in place when going online.
Children may not want to notify you of the dangers they are facing online for fear of having their internet privileges revoked. Therefore, it’s important to have tough conversations with your children early on. Encourage them to speak openly with you when they are placed in a compromising position online and that you’ll be there to help them navigate their way out of it. Monitor their internet activity, secure their devices regularly, and set them up on safe websites such as our safe email software for kids. It’s important to respect their privacy, of course, but it’s also important to mentor them through the digital world.