Let’s face the truth: today’s kids are getting tech-savvy much earlier than you did, and there is no way to keep them away from smart devices and the Web. You can block access to the Internet during your absence or simply restrict your child’s use of laptop or tablet to certain purposes and limited hours, but with the dissemination of mobile technology, you are simply powerless in keeping your
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What is so dangerous about kids’ online activity? On the one hand, they are developing digital skills and get new friends and knowledge online. However, children are less competent in cyber-security and their behavior online is often unsafe. Thus, they may fall prey to cyber-bullies or cyber-criminals who may hack your computer and steal your personal or financial information. At the same time, children are more prone to get hazardous viruses and malware from unprotected chats, games, and social media they attend.
Why Limit Your Kid’s Use of Online Resources?
Some parents prefer not to control their children’s use of the Web by using only some superficial parental control features to restrict kids’ access to games, adult content, or violent resources. Is that enough and what can expect a child online without sufficient parental attention to the issue?
Things to beware are:
- Violent, sexually explicit, or pornographic content
- Extremist views or misrepresented information causing the development of false views and values
- Materials promoting self-harming behaviors such as suicide, extreme dieting, etc.
- Getting involved in bullying or abusive communication
- Unintentional sharing of personal information.
Moreover, there are numerous evil persons who may harm your child online in a number of ways:
- Bullies and child intimidators
- Adults creating false profiles in social media for mischief-taking, stalking, and sexual grooming
- Individuals targeting identity theft and attempting to hack your computer
- Blackmailers and extorters
As a result of coming across any of these online, a child may develop some phobias, may be stressed and depressed by negativity online, and may even develop unrealistic, depressing body image and gender role perceptions.
Growing Consensus on Need for Child Protection Online
With the cases of fraud and virus contamination getting ever more widespread, both national governments and inter-governmental organizations have started developing practical guidelines for parents to educate children about online safety. For instance, there is a detailed guide on child’s safety online from the UK Government, and additional valuable resources are provided by ParentZone, ChildNet, and NSPCC, among others. Such measures are highly eloquent about the realized scope of dangers online, and suggest the need to include online safety lessons in all families’ principles of childrearing.
How to Keep Your Child Safe Online?
Based on the presented evidence and on the overall need to enforce online safety and ethics of online behavior, it is imperative for every parent to educate children regarding online activities. As a parent, you should teach your kids the following vital principles:
- Keeping personal data confidential. Responsible disclosure of personal information online is one of the basic safety rules, since criminals and bullies are first of all interested in finding out where the child lives, his/her e-mail or telephone, and other personal contact details. Hence, it is vital to teach a child to keep that data private and not to share any personally identifying information with strangers.
- Downloading content with caution. Most viruses and spyware get to computers and phones via infected attachments and downloads, so it is extremely important either to limit the child’s ability to download materials or to teach him/her to check all files with anti-spyware before downloading.
- Keeping away from strangers. Online communication is always connected with meeting new people, but children’s discretion is poorly developed, and they are unable to discern right people from wrong ones. Hence, it is better to teach a child not to communicate with any unknown people and to report all efforts of contact to parents.
- Evaluating trustfulness of resources. Kids may need some educational materials online, and they often download entertaining content such as videos, images, or games. To do that safely, they have to know the basis of differentiating poor and high-quality sites and downloads.
- Sharing concerns with parents. No matter how hard to protect your child, some bad things may still happen. To avoid greater psychological damage or aggravation of the situation with bullying or blackmailing, teach your child to be open and sincere about his/her online experiences. This will help both of you to detect and solve the problem early at its onset, and remove the unpleasant, fearful experiences from the child’s online life.
As it comes from the presented review, children are unsafe online unless they know basic rules of online conduct. However, to make sure that all rules are observed and your kid indeed does not involve in harmful or dangerous online activities, some sort of technical parental control is still recommended. Make sure to install a phone spy app on all devices your child uses, and you will always be confident in the safety and well-being of your child.