We use the Internet every day, for information, games, chatrooms, social media, and much more. But even though the Internet is a vastness of knowledge and opportunity, there are also dangers lurking within. Internet frauds frequently target the youngest of users, so how can one protect their children from cyber-threats?
Most parents see no problem in their children using the Internet to contact their friends, family, or other people. The adults tend to perceive it as a harmless pastime. More and more youngsters uses smartphones, tablets or other devices with Internet access, since they want to keep in touch with modern technology and trends. Their parents, however, should warn them about the dangers of the Internet.
Precious personal information
Before a child embarks on their journey through the Internet, every parent should have a talk with them about how to behave online, what is acceptable, and what is strictly forbidden. Virtual world can be perilous, so an honest talk is of utmost importance. The children have to realise that they must never discern any personal information about themselves, or their family, to anyone. That includes their surname, address, telephone number, or any other sort of information. Pay attention while signing up to various portals ‘ a child‘s login including his surname is a bad idea. The password should be secure as well, consisting of a complex string of characters and letters, both upper- and lowercase.
The Internet and mobile devices play a major part in our lives. Children grow accustomed to the boons of the 21st century much quicker than the adults, therefore it is the parents‘ duty to help their children understand that these devices are more than just awesome toys. Young people mostly use their phones or tablets for entertainment, and that is where they let their guard down most easily.
While having a talk about mobile devices and their significance, it is important to raise the issue of new friendships made over the Internet. Especially the youngest of users (e.g. of social media), are vulnerable to contacts with people pretending to be someone completely different than they really are, and having ill intentions to boot. On the Internet, such frauds often deceive younger users, who are usually unaware that giving out their personal information they compromise their own security, as well as others‘.
Mobile device control
Talking to your children about Internet threats might not be enough. It is worth to be in control of all applications and portals your children use. Monitoring their devices is crucial!
- Keep the smartphone updated. New versions or updates of the operating system are usually released together with security updates. Frequently the older versions are insufficiently secured, so keep track of new updates available for installation, e.g. in the phone‘s or tablet‘s settings panel.
- Install verified applications only. Children love to install games and other applications on their phones. Internet criminals know it full well and frequently make use of it. The children should be made aware that they are supposed to download only the verified applications available in their operating system‘s application store, such as Google Play or Apple App Store. Applications of unknown origin may contain hidden viruses, or attempt to gain access to your contact list or text messages upon installation
- Time on the computer. Teenagers can get carried away when it comes to being onlice. It is for the parents to decide when their children can be on the computer or play with a smartphone. Some limits and restrictions should be established, to prevent the youngsters from wasting the entire day in the virtual world, or from staying up late to check social media notifications.
Perils of the Web
Cyber-bullying is, unfortunately, frequently practised, affecting mostly young people. It is extremely dangerous, therefore the parents need to pay attention to any alarming symptoms. Usually, the bully is someone the child knows, but there are also cases, where the aggressor is a complete stranger. Internet bullying became very widespread and dangerous. A number of incidents took place, where a teenager committed suicide, or attempted to do it.
Examples of Internet bullying:
- Spreading false rumours and accusations.
- Distribution of offensive messages, emails, or comments.
- Creating fake accounts, with intent to humiliate the victim.
- Publishing of humiliating pictures or films without the victims knowledge or consent.
- Direct threats or intimidation.
How is cyber-bullying different from regular bullying?
Bullying is dangerous – it does not matter whether it happens in real or virtual world. However, when it takes place on the Internet, the feelings of anger, humiliation and sadness are even stronger, as the information travels over the Internet much faster, reaching much more people, regardless the time or distance.
Cyber-bullies do not need to make direct contact.
Another considerable difference between Internet and regular bullying is the fact that it can be done anonymously and even at great distances. The children might not even know who the oppressor is, as it could be virtually any person, of any age and place of residence. While using social media, or even playing online games, the child can be attacked by a completely unknown person.
There are many threats over the Internet, some more dangerous than the others. The children are often unaware of that, which makes them all the more vulnerable. But even though it might be difficult to protect ourselves from each and every cyber-attack, taking the advice above allows to reduce the threat to a minimum. It is especially important for the youngest of users, who often seem an easy prey due to their lack of experience.