Norton UK Blog
The most common threats kids face online
Children are among the most active Internet users, and are unfortunately exposed to a number of threats lurking online. If you allow your children to spend considerable time surfing the web, it’s important to know what they face so you may deal with them accordingly. But what are some of the most common online threats to children that you should know about?
The Internet is jam packed of “inappropriate content.” Chances are your children may try searching for such content, or they may simply stumble upon it accidentally. Regardless, it’s very easy to find if the websites containing the content are not blocked.
Investing in parental control software to block websites you don’t want kids to browse is an easy way to monitor the content viewable by younger members of your household. Another option is to use a child-friendly browser that automatically blocks websites unsuitable for kids. Both options help to keep a close eye on your kids while they’re online, or check their recent search histories so you have an idea of what sites they’re visiting. Placing your computer in a room the whole family uses regularly is also a good idea.
Not everyone we meet online is genuine and some predators enter chat rooms, message boards or use social media to find young children. They befriend them by pretending to be their age, and usually try to meet up at some point. Setting up fake profiles is quite simple for anyone to do, so it’s important as a parent to emphasize this danger to your children. Go over the warning signs, and stress that they can always come to you if concerned. Encourage your kids to interact online only with those they know, such as friends and relatives. Also let them know that meeting anyone they met online presents very real, very scary dangers.
In the internet age bullies no longer have to be face to face with their victims. Cyberbullying through social media sites is unfortunately prevalent in today’s world, and causes just as much damage as any other form of bullying. This is arguably one of the most challenging threats to deal with, though a solution is to prevent your children from creating social media profiles in the first place. Let them know they can create theirs when they’re older. If you don’t want to do this, remind your children that they can always come to you if they’re being bullied, whether online or not. You won’t be able to do much unless you know it’s happening in the first place.
It’s a common misconception that only adults are targeted by online scams but did you know children are very vulnerable to them as well? Common types of scams include emails claiming you’ve won large sums of money and requesting payments to receive said “winnings”; websites offering something for a low price but never explaining what it is exactly; and essentially anything that’s extremely cheap or free. We’ve all heard of these type of scam’s but as a young person the prospect of winning a large chunk of money for just a click, the temptation can be irresistible.
Education is key to preventing online scam issues, so be sure to let your children how to recognize the signs. Emphasize that they should never, ever purchase something online without checking with you, and discourage them from clicking on suspect links. The more they know, the better—you don’t want them accidentally infecting the family computer with a virus or otherwise costing you a large slice of your wallet.
Remember, you’re the parent, and you know best how much your kids use the Internet. They don’t have to have smartphones—flip phones for emergencies and calling their friends is more than enough. They don’t have to have social media profiles either—there are plenty of Internet-based activities that can wait until they’re older. And they don’t have to be online 24/7 so a happy balance of online and real playtime will prepare your children for positive experiences online.
Want to know more about how you can recognise the signs of cyberbullying?