As a parent, it’s only natural to want to keep your kids safe from harm. But in this day and age, the internet dangers for kids aren’t always so obvious. Of course, we want them to take full advantage of the internet — like researching homework or connecting with friends.
However, while browsing and sharing content, it’s important to remember that the net can hide some major pitfalls too! With everything from social media to video games being just a few clicks away, parents must be extra vigilant. That’s why, to make sure you're in-the-know when it comes to protecting your kids on the web, here are 5 common threats you should be aware of.
6 Dangers of the internet for kids
Kids are getting on the internet more and more every day. Nonetheless, while there are lots of great things, it's necessary to be aware of the dangers too. From cyber-bullying to falling for scams, here are the most common risks for children online:
Cyberbullying is a wild beast of new technology! It's like regular bullying, but with a digital twist. In short, it's when people attempt to use technology in order to harass, threaten, intimidate or embarrass others. It can take various forms, like sending mean messages, spreading rumors on social platforms, and sharing information without consent.
In this sense, cyberbullying can come from anywhere. From friends from school that are mean online just like in real life, to unknown people making harsh comments.
Your kid might know more about social media trends, but that doesn't mean you should let them be! Instead, take some time to get educated on the issue and understand the options available to prevent and stop cyberbullying.
2. Cyber predators / Internet predators
So, what is an internet predator? Internet predators are like the sharks of the digital ocean. They lurk in the murky depths, ready to surface and take a tasty bite out of unsuspecting victims. These cyber-predators come in all shapes and sizes, but they all have one thing in common: a craving for vulnerable targets that can be easily victimized. In simpler terms, an internet predator is someone who uses the internet to make contact with potential victims such as children in order to harm them or exploit them.
With an increase in access to technology, it's easy for these predators to connect with children virtually without detection. In consequence, parents should remain vigilant when it comes to checking the websites their kiddos visit.
Additionally, there are lots of steps that parents and guardians can take to protect their children from harm. For example, they can monitor their online activity, limit their screen time and educate them on online safety.
3. Identity theft
Identity theft online is a growing problem that can cause more damage than you think. While it's easy to laugh off the notion of someone stealing your identity, it's no joking matter.
Identity thieves are constantly creating new ways for criminals to obtain and misuse personal information. As a consequence, this can wreak havoc on your finances and personal life. For example, they may use fake emails or social media accounts, or even try to hack into your device.
While kids may think their online activity is safely hidden behind a screen, this isn't necessarily true. That’s why it’s important to take steps to reduce the risks. For instance, ensuring strong passwords and avoiding sharing financial and personal information are a good way to start. However, it’s critical to educate your children on the dangers posed by identity thieves.
4. Downloading a Malware
Malware is the stuff of our worst digital nightmares. It's malicious, nasty code sent by Internet villains to infiltrate and disrupt computers and networks.
In this sense, this threat is nothing to take lightly. It refers to malicious software that can wreak havoc on computers and devices. If a child unknowingly downloads malware, it could mean big trouble for them… and their parents!
The virus could steal personal information, hijack the device, or even worse – install spyware. And nobody wants to be spied on! Kids need to be educated about the importance of being careful when downloading any type of file, especially from sources they aren't familiar with.
Phishing is one of the most common risks for children online- and it has nothing to do with virtual fishing rods! In reality, phishing is when someone tries to steal information through email by pretending to be a known company.
It works because the criminal seems convincing––often claiming that you need to “verify” your login details. However, it’s not just for adults – kids should also be aware.
To stay safe online, it's important for young people to understand that no legitimate company will ever ask them for passwords or account numbers over email; if this does happen, it is a big red flag! Educating kids about phishing is essential if we want them to stay secure in today’s world.
6. Inappropriate content
Inappropriate content is the stuff you wouldn't want to bring up with your grandma. For example, things like sexual references, coarse language, drug/alcohol abuse, and scenes of violence. It can be really dangerous for young kids to get exposed to this type of content. As a consequence, it can mess with their understanding of certain issues and harm their development.
All in all, to avoid this, it’s essential to install parental controls to block inappropriate content.
Risks for children online: Final thoughts
Knowing the risks that children face online is only half the battle to keeping them safe. It takes a combination of understanding, education and proactive parenting in order to really keep them safe.
Being realistic about what our children can or should get up to online is a must if we want to protect them. So don’t be too quick to dismiss any strange behaviors that show up in their lives as something ‘normal’. Now, more than ever, it’s time to be aware of the internet dangers for kids and how to prevent them.