The internet has changed the world at lightning speed in the past 20 years. The playgrounds that you had in your childhood are different from what your children have today. The online world is the biggest virtual playground for your children and it is very difficult for you to track down the activities they perform on the internet.
The internet attracts everyone by its dazzling appearance and ease of use, but the children and teens are pulled in deep. So, as parents, it’s not only your duty but a prime responsibility to be aware of what your children are up to on the internet.
Before you could even think of solutions to protect your children online, let’s first understand the dangers your child faces online:
In 2020, cyberbullying.org surveyed 1034 teens in the United States and among them, 15% have been the victims of cyberbullying. The virtual playgrounds are where most of the cyberbullying take place, 24/7. Cyberbullying can harm your child’s psychological state of mind which may further hamper his confidence and in some cases even lead to suicide.
Cyberbullying may lead to psychological problems like anxiety, anger, low self-esteem, and depression among your children. So, if you notice a change in behaviour in your child, it’s an alarm for you to know the root cause of the same.
2. Cyber Predators
A Cyber Predator is someone who uses the internet to exploit children or teens with a specific intention of imposing sexual, psychological, or emotional abuse. These cyber predators connect with your children or teens through instant messaging, social networks, chat rooms, and mostly through video games.
The sexual and other predators are secretly active on gaming platforms and social media to connect with children and entice them into life-threatening encounters by gaining children’s trust online. The statistics from the Crimes Against Children Research Center say, 77% of Cyber Predators target children in the age 14 and above and 22% target the age group 10-13.
Phishing is the use of emails, instant messages or text messages to trick people, especially children, into clicking on malicious links or attachments. It can be a simple and friendly message saying, “Hey – thought you may like this!” Cybercriminals plant these phishing messages on sites popular with children.
4. Oversharing of personal information
Today, even you, as parents are trapped in a habit of posting anything and everything online. Remember, your child imitates your actions.
For instance, if you’re posting your emotional vulnerabilities on social media saying, “Feeling depressed”, there are chances a scammer may get the wind of this and he may use your current state of mind against you by listening to you and gaining your trust. To give you a very common and simple example, home robberies take place when people post a check-in on Facebook – “Vacaying with the entire family”.
Children may not always distinguish between personal information nor do they know the danger in sharing it with strangers. So, as parents, you first need to understand that oversharing on social media can lead to such online traps so that you can protect your children from the same.
5. Falling for Scams
Online scams often target your children and they often fall for offers like free access to online games or ad-on. Cybercriminals then promise prizes to lure your children and in return take what they want – like your credit card information. Children are innocent creations of God who fall for the scams and end up giving away the information.
Malware is something which you too can be a victim of. But children are most vulnerable to downloading malware as cybercriminals often place malware in games, and use games to entice children into downloading them.
7. Posts can haunt a child later in life
As you know, the internet does not have a ‘delete’ key, and what goes on the internet, stays there. Teenagers may not realise that a party picture may risk their reputation at a job interview 10 years down the line. Such personal posts may at times risk your child’s reputation when he/she is a fully grown adult.
8. Addiction to the internet
Internet addiction is a common phenomenon among children, as well as adults. They get a kick as soon as they enter a different world away from their studies and problems. This addiction is worse than that of alcohol and drugs. Studies say a whopping 57% of people with internet video game addiction have a depressive disorder. Be attentive – your child may be one amongst them.
9. Inappropriate content
Pop-ups with adult content may come up on your child’s laptop or mobile phone’s screen while browsing the internet and it’s most of the times difficult for your child to process it psychologically.
10. Chat rooms
You know your children are busy chatting on the phone almost for the entire day with their friends. But what you don’t know is, your child may be chatting to a bot or a stranger without their knowledge either.
Now that you know these ten possible dangers your child can be facing online, let us tell you that only ⅓ of households with internet connection actively protect their children with filters or blocking software, according to a study conducted by the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.
As parents, you need to just ask yourself this question – where do you stand in the above survey. If you’re one out of the three, don’t panic.
To help you understand and in turn protect your child from online dangers, Siccura Cybersafe comes to your rescue.
It is a fun, informative and interactive training awareness program developed online for children, teenagers, and their parents.
So, be a cybersmart parent with Siccura Cybersafe and protect your children and family by fighting against internet dangers.