For many parents, especially those who aren’t digital natives, recognizing risks that loom in cyberspace is not easy. This guide helps point to some of the main threats.
The first of June isn’t just a sign of the approaching summer season, but also one of the biggest celebrations of young people – International Children’s Day. However, while this annual event reminds us of how precious and courageous today’s kids can be, it also reminds us how vulnerable they are.
With the rise of technology and the growing prominence of social networks, children often tend to be absorbed in the virtual world. Some even spend more time online than with their parents or friends outside of it.
For many parents this poses a great challenge, as a lot of them aren’t digital natives and struggle to recognize all the risks that might loom in cyberspace. For those moms and dads, we have prepared a short list of what to look out for.
Short for malicious software, it is one of the most prevalent risks online. There are many different methods malware uses to reach its targets, however children mostly encounter it disguised as a fake copy of a popular game. Infected versions often come from third party markets or forums, but some of these “free” games can also found on the official Google Play market. By using reputable security software, you can limit their access to dangerous websites and block inappropriate apps.
This hostile behavior is frequent, especially among teenagers. A child is usually threatened and humiliated by his or her peers in cyberspace, potentially causing him or her emotional trauma. But whether or not your offspring is the victim of such malicious behavior, he or she should not retaliate, as this is exactly the kind of reaction a bully wants to provoke. Instead, they should come to you, and with your help, both notify the authorities and provide the (bullying) messages as evidence.
When an adult tries to persuade a child to participate in sexual activity by creating an environment of trust and building an emotional connection, it is called grooming. Many times these perpetrators even pretend to be their peers in order to establish a close relationship and arrange a meeting in person. For parents it is best to use parental tools to keep an overview of who their kids are interacting with online.
Sexting comes from the combination of the words sex and texting. Initially, as its name indicates, it referred to emails that contained sexual messages. More recently, due to technological progress, this evolved to include the exchange of images and videos, and it has become commonplace since most teenagers have their own mobile devices. To counter this risk, explain that such pictures and messages can end up online and spread to people they weren’t intended for. Sometimes this kind of soft dialogue can be more effective than strict control.
All the information that travels through the web, without the necessary precautions, may be intercepted by third parties. A wrong step may expose a minor to the loss of family money or in the worst case scenario, to identity theft. Therefore, parents should educate their children as to what information is sensitive and how to handle it properly. Also, parents should ideally be the ones carrying out financial transactions online.
An unsolicited email that arrives in your inbox is nothing new. But with the growing number of campaigns, ransomware can also hit your child’s device, especially if he or she doesn’t know how to handle these messages.
Scams are deceptive acts carried out via the internet. They can take many forms, such as the use of social engineering techniques launched over social networks. For example, while attackers may offer something for sale, what they really want is to obtain confidential information. False messages requesting our social network user IDs and passwords over the internet are also a frequently seen example of scams.
Want more tips?
- If possible, create a specific account for your child in order to efficiently control his or her activities online.
- Keep a reputable security solution and parental control tool installed and up to date.
- Monitor your child’s browsing history and if deleted, have a talk.
- Make sure the webcam is disconnected or covered (if built-in) when not in use.
- If you allow your child the use of social networks, keep an eye on the settings. A profile that is publicly shared with no limitations may put a young person’s integrity at risk.