Cyber Security Awareness Month – Children and Teens
Ask yourself this question; what are my children doing online? Who are they friends with? What websites are they visiting? What are they telling people about themselves or your family? If you can’t answer these question then you could be in a helluva lot of trouble and not even know it.
We are in the the midst of one of the greatest social challenges in our history, COVID-19. And as result children’s and teen are spending more time than ever online. Schools in particular have moved online. And parents, working form home, are just too busy to monitor their children’s online activity. This is a recipe for danger.
Many children in the pre-teens and teen years are very internet savvy. They probably have Twitter, Facebook and and Instagram accounts not to mention Tik-Tok,YouTube and so on. But now younger children are getting online to get their daily schooling. This means children as young as 8 years old may be online unsupervised.
Protecting young children
The first step parents need to do to protect their children online is practice diligence and awareness. Monitor what your child is doing and what website they are visiting. Don’t use the internet or a website as a babysitter. You’ll regret it.
- Carefully select what websites your child visits and how long they can stay in the website.
- Make sure the website is age appropriate.
- Maintain the pass word and other credentials for accessing the website.
- Visit Parenting.com for mom approved websites.
- Visit the Federal Trade Commission website for more information about protecting your child online.
Ask any parent and they will tell you the most frustrating part of their life is dealing with a teenager. They can be argumentative, secretive and defiant. all without realizing how dangerous the online world can be.
Teenagers have encountered real world dangers from people they met online. If you think only teenagers are in those teen chatrooms or other social media sites like TikTok or Instagram you are dangerously naive.
Teens are equally bold and confident as well as childish and vulnerable and yes, mean. Online bullying is one of the most dangerous and destructive activities teen engage in online. You might be surprised to know its likely your son or daughter is either the perpetrator or the victim of cyberbullying.
The most dangerous threats to your teenager online are;
- Cyberbullying – Teens have a long history of picking on one another, but today the taunts and abuse don’t stop at the high school’s doors. Social media, email, texting, and instant messaging (IM) can invade your teen’s world 24/7. Sadly, there are multiple accounts where cyberbullying has led to suicide.
- Sexting – Whether it’s sending or receiving photos or sexy messages, sexting can lead to a lot of trouble. Depending on how far it goes and whether or not swapped pics remain private, sexting can result in consequences ranging from severe reputation damage to child pornography charges, to being victimized by child predators.
- Identity theft – It might seem strange to worry about identity theft when your teen doesn’t have any credit or assets to steal. But cyber criminals like to take a teen’s blank slate of credit and open up accounts that can follow your child for years to come. The damage can impact your teen’s future by making it harder to do things like buy a car, rent an apartment, or get a job.
- Pornography – Exposure to pornography can have a lasting impact and hamper your teen’s ability to form healthy, loving relationships in the future. It creates unrealistic expectations that may impact self-esteem and confuse a teenager’s understanding of romantic relationships.
- Online predators: Online predators often pose as peers in an attempt to connect with potential victims. Again, who is your chatting with online? They can show up on social networks, chat rooms, and other online environments. Many predators attempt to groom teens for sexual exploitation or human trafficking. But a growing number of online predators aim to radicalize children for extreme political or religious groups.
Another factor that parents and teens need to be aware of is that colleges and universities keep a keen watch on social media. Your high school graduate could possibly find getting into a good school next to impossible if that school find negative or undesirable information about you child on the internet. Universities are using social media research firms to weed out drug users and other potential disruptive students from campus.
For more information about teens and the internet go to StaySafe.org
Now you know.