Are you well-equipped to be a parent in the digital era? It’s an arduous task and we know it. That is why today we are looking at the cyber risks faced by your children and the simple measures you can take to keep them safe.
It is natural for parents to be concerned about the online activities that their children are engaging in. You want to ensure that the long hours now available (due to lockdown and studying from home) are not spent accessing inappropriate content and that it does not land your children in the hands of online predators.
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Children’s matters are quite sensitive and that you may not always be there to censor their activities. You need help and I’ve got you covered.
This is an analysis of the major risks faced by children as they go about their online activities and top measures that can help you keep them safe.
3 cyber risks faced by children online
1. Exposure to online predators
Online predators such as sexual stalkers are impersonating kids to establish a connection with unsuspecting children. They do this by creating fake profiles, with completely false information, and fake images.
They approach their targets through social media, gaming sites, and other interactive platforms. Their main intention is to lure and exploit children. Initially, online predators may start by engaging the children through various chat platforms but at some point, they end up requesting for an actual meeting.
Recently, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) launched a set of guidelines to help strengthen child protection seeing that exposure has soared due to the Covid 19 pandemic. In their address, ITU said that many children are becoming active internet users at a tender age, way before what their parents had originally thought of.
2. Access to inappropriate content
Not every content available on the internet is fit for children. Your child may access inappropriate content by choice or they may erroneously land into it.
Inappropriate content may be in the form of sexually explicit articles, photos, or videos or be championing for other forms of moral decadence such as drug abuse and violence.
3. Posting personal information
Personal information is information that is specific and identifiable to your children.
Many cases of cyberbullying are fueled by private information disclosed on social media platforms. Revealing too much information gives cyberbullies a foundation to root their attacks. They may, for instance, attack you based on your lifestyle or body appearance.
Unfortunately, cyberbullying is as destructive as any other bullying. It may end up shattering a victim’s self-esteem.
3 measures to help your children stay safe
Talk to your children about the best online practices
It is arguably one of the best ways to protect your children from online threats. Talk them into delaying the creation of social profiles until they are older. If they must have social profiles, discourage them from sharing their details and information before confirming its appropriateness with you.
You can also share insights on how to identify secure pages from ones that are not, how scammers approach their targets, and so on.
Most importantly, let your children know that they can always confide in you whenever they have an issue online or offline.
Install a VPN on your kid’s device
Using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) is another effective way to protect your kid’s online activity. A VPN helps with making an internet user’s real identity anonymous.
This is through a data encryption technology that allows a connected internet user to browse securely. Using this tool is an ideal way of blocking out spies and other malicious people whose intent is to launch deceptive attacks on innocent children.
Use parental controls
Using parental controls is an ideal way to prevent your children from accessing inappropriate content. You can make use of inbuilt parental control features which are present in most devices and applications or you can invest in good parental control software.
Set up parental controls to block any websites whose content you do not want your children to access on their devices.
You may also want to complement parental controls by installing child-friendly browsers and application software on your child’s devices. These tools automatically block websites containing content that is unfit for children.
Remember to always acknowledge the efforts made by your kids in regard to attaining the set security goals.
Knowing what your children are doing online calls for consistency in practising the measures discussed above. It’s advisable to have children use their devices in a common area of the house whenever you are home. This way, you will have the opportunity to monitor their online behaviour even if it is just for a few hours a week.
I hope the above tips will help you stay tuned to your children’s safety online.