The current growth in technology is amazing, and the rate of development is predicted to double. With the new era of technology, there is this generation of kids exposed to things that no previous generation was exposed to.
Everywhere you go, be it the mall, restaurants, or grocery stores, you are guaranteed to see toddlers with their eyes glued to a screen, scrolling through pictures and videos on mom’s iPhone.
Although the internet might be a risky neighborhood for everyone, teens and children are more vulnerable. From cyberbullying and scams to phishing emails, cyberstalks, and predators, the internet is full of many risks that can put your kids in danger.
As a parent, you have the responsibility to keep your kids safe, and the best approach to start is to educate yourself about the online risks and learn the following ways to reduce those dangers:
- Use an Encrypted Network
When your children access the public Wi-Fi or home internet, there is a high chance that they are using an unencrypted network. This means that cybercriminals with the right tools may spy on their online traffic and infringe upon their privacy.
As a caring parent armed with a VPN, you can create a private encrypted network for your data to pass through, allowing you to protect its content from prying eyes. To read any data, you will require an encryption key. Without the key, it will take millions of years for computers to decipher the code in the event of a brute force attack.
VPN services also serve as your proxies on the internet. Since the demographic location data comes from a server in a different country, your actual whereabouts might not be determined. Plus, many VPN services will not keep logs of your activities.
- Discuss the Risks of Meeting Online Friends in Person
Most college students wishing to avoid getting into a committed relationship and bar scene turn to online dating as a solution. Meeting online friends comes about through dating apps and when cyber relationships become real because of prolonged interactions within MMO games.
However, when you get together face-to-face for the first time with a person you have never met online, there are some risks. The internet is an online background for scam artists, who want to take advantage of others, so you shouldn’t be trusting others.
If your teenager asks for permission, rather than just bursting out with ‘of course not or no’ and rambling about the online dangers, ensure you express interest in your kid’s relationship with their internet friend. Remember to also ask about how they met, why they need to meet, the meeting venue, and what they have in common.
- Be Keen on Using Social Media
Most teenagers need firm boundaries and the right information. They consistently take risks and press boundaries, some of which come with serious consequences. Social media, in particular, is among the major outlets for possible downfall. Some of the dangers social media kids get exposed to include cyberbullying, sexting, and predators.
All these are damaging, so you should discuss them with your kids. The conversation should revolve around your kids’ online interactions and internet safety. It helps to be conversant with the specific forums your kids use. Be sure to also create your own account, have your kids show you their profile, and review their friends’ list.
If that is not enough, you may get a parental control app. Smartphones normally come with safety features, and a few parental control apps are readily available for you to download. If you choose to monitor your kids’ social media use this way, you have to be honest and open regarding your use of parental controls.
- Post Pictures and Videos with Caution
The internet is not always a safe haven for parents, particularly considering the amount of privacy you forfeit each time you share information online. Although young kids may not give it a thought to what their parents do and share about them online, this might not stay true as they become older.
According to professionals at Common Sense Media, five years kids begin to develop a sense of themselves as people and how the world perceives them. They might start feeling embarrassed regarding their parents’ content online, particularly when it comes to updates on behavioral changes, early childhood anecdotes, and funny pictures.
Apart from that, digital kidnapping is also a serious issue resulting from parents who post pictures of their kids. It happens when some take pictures of kids and repurpose them with new identities and names.
Rather than just posting pictures and videos, it is best to ask your kids what they are comfortable with and take extra precautions. This includes paying close attention to privacy settings on social media platforms and watermarking those you want to post publicly.
- Don’t Share Passwords
Sharing a Wi-Fi password gives full access to the local network. You might think that everyone understands the need to keep passwords confidential, but your kids probably don’t. It takes one moment of poor decision-making, and you risk exposing all the data stored in your devices.
It is important to teach your children how to protect accounts with unique and strong passwords, which use a combination of at least ten lower and uppercase letters, numbers, and symbols so as to confuse password-stealing bots scouring the Web.
In addition, change your password after every two or three months, and avoid using a similar password across various accounts. If it is hard to recall every password, ensure you use a free password manager, such as Norton Identity Safe.
Traditionally, parents warned their kids of the physical risks they face, be that strangers in the park or pickpockets on the street. Today, parents face an altogether different challenge – keeping their kids safe on the World Wide Web.
Internet safety for children heavily depends on parents being aware of understanding how to help their kids avoid the risks and being aware of those dangers. Regardless of the never-ending news on cyber extortion, cybercriminals, and data breaches, parents have started to get used to the internet, along with its hidden risks.