Kids today are among the most active users on the internet. In fact 71% of kids are online. The Internet has become their school and playground. Unfortunately, this has led to children being subjected to a number of threats. If as a parent, you are allowing your children to spend considerable time online, it’s important to be aware of the dangers they could face.

Here are some of the most common dangers faced by children online:

1. Cyberbullying:

Bullying has moved on from being a face to face act, and has moved into the digital space. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying which takes place online or through smartphones and tablets. Cyberbullying through social media has become prevalent in today’s digital world, and causes the same amount of damage as normal bullying. In fact, 60 percent of parents with children aged 14 to 18 reported them being bullied.[]. With social media and online games becoming today’s virtual playground, cyberbullying is a 24/7 operation. Children can easily be ridiculed through social media exchanges.

2. Inappropriate Content

The internet is full of inappropriate content. Children may be searching or accidentally come across it whilst doing their homework or playing games. Whether its malicious adverts tricking children into passing personal information in exchange for something, or inappropriate content of violent and sexual nature can have a psychological impact on a child.

3. Online Scams

It’s a myth that only adults are the target of online scams, children are very much vulnerable to them as well. Some of the common scams faced by children include emails claiming winnings of large sums of money, and requesting payments to receive the winnings.Children are targeted with malicious adverts with the aim to download malware and infect the device.

4. Cyber Predators

Nowadays sexual and other predators often stalk children onine, taking advantage of their innocence, lack of cybersecurity knowledge, lack of adult supervision and abusing their trust.. They are always lurking on social media or gaming platforms. Remember, you’re a parent, and you can control how much time your kids spend on the internet.

What are Parental Controls?

Parental controls are designed to help you protect your child online. They are a great way of preventing your children from being subjected to dangers that lurk digitally.

Types of controls

In essence, there are four types of controls that parents should be aware of.

1. Internet Provider: You can set up filters that block access to inappropriate content on any device that connects to your home WiFi.

2. Mobile Operator: You can put filters on mobile operating controls if the child is under the age of 18. Check with your mobile operator provider.

3. Devices: Devices have parental control settings that help parents put a limit on the amount of time their child spends on apps, or screentime.

4. Online Services: Certain official sites like YouTube and Facebook have parental control settings that help restrict access to inappropriate content.

Advantages of Parental control

· Monitor kids’ devices

· Manage what content your children are exposed to on the Web

· Track your kids’ location

· Block certain features in Games

· Manage screen time.

Just as you teach your kids basic manners, or to take precaution while crossing the road, similarly its important to teach them cyber hygiene.

6 Tips to kick start Parental Control

1. Schedule screen time limits for Children and devices

As parents, you must establish some ground rules on the appropriate amount of time your children spend on computers, laptops, smartphones or video games. For instance, you may consider limiting the number of hours per day your kids can use devices, and what activities they conduct on those devices. For instance, you can set a ground rule that your child can only access certain apps on your iPad for 10 minutes. Before setting any rules, it’s important to talk to your children so they understand why you are enforcing screen time.

2. Activate Privacy settings

Ensure strict privacy setting on apps and website used by kids. Follow the directions during initial set-up, or go to the section marked “privacy” or “settings” and opt out of things such as location sharing. Encourage kids to read the fine print before checking a box or entering an email address. 

 3. Block access to certain sites

Depending on your child’s age and maturity level, you might want to set up restrictions on websites and types of downloads that you feel is inappropriate. There are parenal controls inbuilt into the devices to stop children from being able to access inappropriate websites.

4. Say No to devices in bed

Devices are good, but they have a bad side as well. The blue light emitted from device screens can reprogram the brain to delay the onset of sleep. Sometimes there is inappropriate content that might affect your child’s mental wellbeing and keep them awake all night. Make sure your children put their devices outside of the room, or hand them over to you before going to bed.

 5. Teach children Password safety

Teach your kids to have strong passwords for their social media and email accounts. Teach them to never repeat passwords and a big NO NO to share it with someone.

6. Set Social Media usage rules

Many social networks require users to be at least 13 years of age, but some allow children to sign up with their parent’s permission. Check privacy setting of your child’s social accounts and make sure it has highest level of privacy. There are many risks that come with social accounts, but stalking and bullying are two very real dangers that can haunt kids online and offline. Publicly broadcasting your location is not the safest thing to do. To deter stalkers, disable location services on your child’s phone and apps.  

Make your kids a good digital citizen. What is uploaded on internet never gets deleted. Educate your kids about the dangers and teach them to be cautious of what they share online.

All of these are essential cyber safety skills, but kids are kids and mistakes can happen. As a parent, you can take preventive steps against this eventuality by helping to protect your child’s device with security software.