TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter are but just a few of the social media platforms that tweens and teens enjoy spending their time on. As much as these platforms are fun, a lot can go wrong when you child is not aware of online etiquette. Your child can easily find themselves on the receiving end of cyber-bullying or they could be the ones dishing the profane language and content, without your knowledge. Whatever the case, it is your responsibility as a parent to make sure your child is safe online and is not a victim of a scam, identity theft, stalking or any other form that makes them fall prey to predators online.
Create awareness about the digital space
Charnel Hattingh, National Marketing and Communications Manager at Fidelity ADT, says due to the Covid-19 lockdown in most countries, there has been an unprecedented rise in the use of digital communication, making this is an important time to again raise the issue of online security for children. She warns that the internet can a particularly vulnerable space for children. “The online world is not that well signposted to warn us there is danger ahead. It is up to the individual user to learn the risks and watch out for them. This is why it is so important to know what your child is consuming online and to be able to talk to them openly and often about the digital world,” Hattingh says.
Cyber bullying is just one example of what can go wrong for children online and one that is mostly highlighted but there are other risk factors and these include:
Scams: Adults get conned online every day, even by the most ludicrous of emails, so what more about children? They can fall for scams easily hence it is your duty as a parent to teach your children that offers which seem too good to be true, are usually are. Children could be tempted by free online music or games. Criminals usually ask for credit card information in order for the child to redeem their “special offer”. They shouldn’t do it before clearing it with you as a parent.
Cyber predators: Children can be stalked by someone pretending to be their age and even lured into a dangerous personal encounter. This is called cat fishing and these types of predators are prevalent on social media and gaming platforms. The rule that children shouldn’t talk to strangers should also apply online.
Downloading malware: Cyber criminals can lure children into downloading something enticing like a free game for example, which is actually harmful software (malware). Once downloaded, criminals could access personal information from the computer the child is using to steal from their parents’ bank accounts or perform other actions which could put the entire family in jeopardy.