HOW YOUNG IS TOO YOUNG TO BE ONLINE?
You watch what your children eat, you make sure they get good schooling, make nice friends, and are safe crossing the road. You wouldn’t let your children play with guns or jump out of a plane. But, most parents do not give a second thought about the dangers of leaving their children alone each day on the internet. What does that mean when they sit in front of a screen with a magical door into a world that can be anything they want, imagine or they themselves can be the superhero?
The internet can be a wondrous place but is filled with hidden dangers that come out of anywhere.
Try to Google Teddy Bear, Castles or even Fairies. I did, when I first was on the web and baby-sitting my niece. I had no idea and what came up was a shock to the system. For both of us.
The internet is having an increased influence on the social development of children and how they interact with each other. Social media, smart phones and other technologies provide children with opportunities to learn, be creative and socialise. However, as with face to face interactions, sometimes bullying and harassment can occur online.
Being Online is a positive and fulfilling experience for children. Content can be posted instantaneously, but the downfall is that children can potentially post messages without thinking about future ramifications. Once it’s online, it’s there forever.
It’s best to identify the possible issues that may occur when letting your children access the internet. This will help you lay your defense in fighting cyber risks.
While the following may scare you and make you worried, it is still best to understand the culprit’s tactics before it’s too late::
1. Cyber Bullying
We’ve been hearing about this a lot lately. This is school bullying gone global. Children and even adults are guilty of this. There are people that may poke fun, rumour mongers and do hate-posting against other people. Some victims are lucky to move on, but some experience an emotional wreck that may lead to depression, may lose confidence or worst, suicide.
Though cyberbullying and trolling may look the same, there is a slight difference. Cyber bullies take on one person and attack them repeatedly, whilst trollers take on anyone and make fun of them. Best examples are the internet memes that are very popular on social media feeds. Some of these memes were photos taken from real people’s uploaded photos, edited with funny or offending captions, often leads to trending posts.
Yes, as horrible as it sounds this kind of internet behaviour exists. Offenders take advantage of a child’s curiosity. Make sure to check your child’s phonebook regularly. Check the people they interact with online through social media. When left unmonitored, this may result to worst cases such as child exploitation, offender asking your child to take pictures of their private parts, or ask your child to do cybersex.
The following are the possible issues your child may encounter online, which you need to be aware of:
- Cyber Bullying
THE 3 THINGS YOU CAN DO RIGHT NOW TO ENSURE THEIR SAFETY:
1. Check their privacy settings.
Did you know that you can set what posts friends or public see through privacy setting? Children tend to be very innocent of the danger that a simple post of their whereabouts can bring. Check their location settings and make sure that it is turned off. The privacy setting will also let you control who can view your accounts online. Make sure that your child’s account is only visible to close relatives and friends.
2. Who are their friends?
There’s nothing wrong with being privy of your child’s online activities especially the people they interact with. Social Media do not filter the people you can add to your lists unless you are able to set them up through settings.
3. Remove identifying names, locations, comments etc.
This goes hand in hand with your tenacity in ensuring the privacy settings is set properly. Criminals are just in the look for possible victim anytime. The sad thing is that they can do so with information that our kids provide them unintentionally. A post about how they are currently enjoying a gelato on third street or an innocent ‘momma is gone for grocery, yey! Alone at home’ can impose a risk. Have a sit down and talk to your child about avoiding these things.
The Australian Government’s Office of the Children’s eSafety Commission has dedicated a website for all internet activities. They offer assistance to cybercrime victims and also, they have extensive discussions of cyber-crimes and preventive measures parents can do.
Teck Design and Marketing offers Masterclass on Ensuring Child’s Cyber Safety for Parents Training. Check out the events calendar for schedules in your area or Contact Teck Training for enquiries.
Overall, the access to information online is still important to your child and may always benefit when it comes to research, additional knowledge and social interaction. The vital element is your responsibility in making sure that your child’s online activities are safe and monitored regularly.