The increased dependency on the internet thanks to IoT, and as many activities shift to remote deployments has necessitated a situation where no one can be exempted from internet usage in one way or the other. This includes children of all ages.
Oblivious of the underlying dangers, children are using the internet for entertainment, socializing, and now remote learning.
Noting this, cybercriminals have heightened their activities, devoting their time to devise attack techniques that capitalize on the vulnerabilities resulting from the increasing rate of children’s internet usage.
As a parent whose primary obligation is to protect your children, how then can you help them to remain safe while on the internet?
Here, we look at the main risks that internet use exposes children to and some ways to keep your children safe online.
Let’s go right in.
4 Risks Faced by Children Online
These are grown-up criminals stalking children on the internet to lure them into in-person encounters.
They leverage on children’s innocence and trust built by engaging them on the gaming and social media platforms.
While using the internet, children may come across encounters that are destructive to their personalities. Cyberbullying can be in the form of mean comments, content or any other damage spread through online interactions.
As a parent, you may not know what your child has seen during their online escapades, but the results of some of these interactions may live to haunt them in life.
Online scams promising special offers such as premium games or other enticing features is a common way used by cybercriminals to lure children into disclosing sensitive information.
The targeted information can be any sensitive user data such as home address, credit card information and so on.
The internet has answers to it all. Some of the content available is, however, inappropriate or inaccurate. Your child could access such content by initiating searches or come across it by accident.
Again, this might happen without you knowing it.
Measures for parents to help their children stay safe
Use Parental Control Tools
Enabling parental controls will help you limit the type of content that your children can access. Make use of the parental controls that come with child-friendly applications such as Youtube Kids.
You can also install child-friendly browsers that block adult content automatically.
Set up security software for your children
You can protect your child from online risks by installing security software such as a VPN and anti-malware software.
Short for Virtual Private Network, a VPN is a safe way to encrypt your child’s traffic and mask their actual location from any spies or online predators. VPNs are also very easy to use. After you turn on the app, you just need one click to activate the connection.
Anti-malware software is also crucial as it offers protection against malicious attacks which are spread through malicious adverts and pop-ups.
Make sure these applications are installed on all devices your kids use frequently. This includes not only their laptops but also their smartphones or tablets.
Have a conversation with your children
Let them understand that not all content available on the internet is good for them and that with you, they can have open dialogues on any arising issues anytime.
Discuss the underlying internet dangers with your children as often as is necessary. Talk to them until they understand and adopt safe online practices. For example, you can teach them the dangers of malicious links and the importance of being extremely vigilant when they see a suspicious URL or pop-up ad.
Teach them about good password practices
Children might need to set up their passwords for all their devices as well as online accounts. They should learn how to set strong passwords. Secure passwords are at least eight characters long including letters, numbers, and ideally special characters. It’s time for them to follow these best practices and stop using a pet’s name or their birthdays as passwords.
Place internet devices in a common area of the house
Your children must use their internet devices from communal areas of the house. The presence of an adult will deter your children from visiting inappropriate websites.
It is also an ideal way of ensuring that your children are not too much into the internet devices: that they have sufficient off-screen time for other activities like completing their homework, sleeping, eating, and offline games.
As a parent, you are in charge of the extent to which your child can access the internet. Have open discussions with them on the activities they can or cannot do at their age and the reasons as to why.
As resourceful as it is, the internet can open great opportunities for your children, but it can also stem from untold dangers. You have a role to play, one that requires that you remain vigilant and make use of helpful tools like the ones discussed above.