Updated: Feb 3
The internet if used well can be a very valuable source of information to kids and teenagers and help supplement what is learnt in school. Most schools provide computer labs whereby children can improve their digital skills. In the school environment the kids are restricted on what they can access on the internet however at home the situation is different.
Children and teenagers are among the most active Internet users. Digital devices such as smartphones and tablets have become very common among children especially the teenagers.
The prevalence of the "digital generation" is exposing children and young adults to many dangers lurking in the internet such as cyberbullying and other online predators who will stop at nothing in their pursuit to corrupt kids.
The biggest danger is that most parents have not realized this and thus end up giving the children unprotected access to the internet.
Let’s have a look at some of the dangers kids and young teenagers face and how to protect them.
The internet is a great source of information at the same time it can used to peddle content that is inappropriate to kids and teenagers such as pornography and radicalization materials.
This can be prevented by enforcing controls that prevent such content from being loaded.
Parental control such as Kaspersky safe kids can used to aid in enforcing parental controls on the kids devices.
Online predators are on the rise and are one of the biggest threats children especially teenagers face these days.
An online predators is a person who will prey on children especially on social media sites and learn their moves and habits in order to lure them into a trap. Some predators use social media to find young children. They befriend them by pretending to be their agemates, mentors or even famous celebrities and usually try to meet up at some point.
The best protection is is to go over warning signs with kids and regularly talking to your children about what is going on in their day-to-day lives.
Cyber bullying is one of the biggest online threats especially to teenagers. Children can be ridiculed in online exchanges which in turn can lead lower self-esteem or in extreme cases depression.
The best foundation for protecting against cyber bullying is to be comfortable talking to your children about what is going on in their lives online and in in real-life (IRL) and how to stand up to bullies. Cyber security software and specialized apps for monitoring your child’s online and mobile activity can help, but nothing will replace an open dialog.
Online scams are usually targeted towards adults but kids and teenagers have also become vulnerable to online scams that can impact the parents indirectly. These online scams can be used to lure kids into leaking their parent’s credit card information and other personal information with a promise of getting a reward.
To protect against this it is important to make the kids aware of what the signs are for an online scam.
Kids and teenagers can also fall prey to phishing attacks from malicious actors this mostly.
Just as phishing techniques are used to compromise cooperate networks in work places, the tactics can also be used to target kids using online platforms. This can be through malicious links on their favorite social media platforms.
This can lead to them losing control of their social media accounts and online learning platforms, the compromised platforms can be used to exploit them and also exploit the parents and friends.
The best way to protect against this is to install an antivirus that can detect and block phishing activity.
Malware is computer software that is installed without the knowledge of permission of the victim and performs harmful actions on the computer. This includes stealing personal information from your computer.
Kids can be lured into downloading malware into their devices or the parent’s personal devices.
To protect against this install a security suit on the home devices that ensures total protection against accidental download of malware onto the devices.
Educate yourself! When you understand the cyberworld, you will feel more confident talking to your kids about it. Take the time to read up on emerging trends, games, and channels to understand how they may affect your child’s online activity.
Ensuring (where appropriate) the device is regularly updated. This can include updating the operating system such as Windows, Android or Mac
Using appropriate antivirus software (and ensuring it is also kept up to date).
Applying parental controls to limit screen time, specific app use (blocking or limiting use), or specific website blocks (such as blocking access to YouTube)
On some devices, parental controls can limit use of the camera and microphone to prevent external communication.
Applying age restrictions to media content and websites (the Communications Alliance has a list of accredited family friendly filters).
Monitoring your child’s use of apps or web browsing activities.
When installing apps for children, checking online and talking to other parents about them.
Configuring web browsers to use “safe search”.
Ensuring children use devices in sight of parents.
Talking to your children about online behaviors.
Block and report. Teach children how to block and report when they see, or experience something problematic online. This helps create good online etiquette and empowers your child to feel in control.