Children Online Safety

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With schools closed and governments issuing strict containment measures to try and curb the spread of the coronavirus disease, the lives of many children across the world have been temporarily reduced to just the home, and therefore, the screen. Parents and caregivers are now more than ever, relying on technology and the internet to keep their children entertained, learning, and busy. But, do your children know anything about online privacy, phishing, viruses, and any other internet security issue out there?

Even with all its goodness, the internet has its dark side, and your kids are likely to suffer numerous risks while browsing the world-wide-web. As a parent, it is important to be aware of these risks and to help your children to use the internet safely. Let’s look at some of these threats.

Inappropriate Content
Increased internet usage may expose children to content that is potentially harmful and age-inappropriate including content that provokes self-harm and suicide, is xenophobic, misogynistic, and promotes ideological or political violence. There is also the likelihood of children being exposed to target online marketing that encourages gender stereotypes and promotes unhealthy foods.

Cyberbullying
It is well-known that cyberbullying is a major problem among teenagers and has far-reaching negative effects. With all the stress brought about by the pandemic and many children now spending their time online, cyberbullying is likely to escalate.

More children have now been introduced to online gaming, instant messaging, and chat services, and not all of them may be resilient to the hurtful behavior witnessed on these platforms.

Online Predators
The internet is full of sexual and other predators who lurk on gaming and social media platforms that entice children. These predators take advantage of the children’s innocence and lack of adult supervision to abuse them.

How to Help Kids Stay Safe Online
As a parent, it is your responsibility to help your children get the best out of the internet while still being safe. Here are some safety measures to consider.

Teach your children to guard their privacy
Your children may not fully understand the repercussions of revealing personal data online, so it’s important that they know:
• Not to personally meet with anyone they found online
• Not to reply to any hurtful messages
• Not to open any email from someone they don’t know
• Not to give personal information such as names, phone numbers, and passwords without your permission.

Set house rules
Parents should set a specific time when their children can be online and also which sites they can visit. You can print out these rules and post them next to the computer for everyone to see, and also outline the consequences of not following them.

Use a VPN
One of the best ways to protect your child online is to use a VPN for security. By installing a VPN on your child’s device, you’ll be encrypting their internet traffic and online data so that it is inaccessible to prying eyes. Your child will be able to browse privately and safely.

Increased internet usage can put your kids at serious risk of online threats including cyberbullying and sexual exploitation. It is important that parents and caregivers take the necessary measures to help children stay safe while still taking advantage of what the internet has to offer.