These days, walking around a primary school is not how it used to be 10 years ago! Almost every child owns a mobile phone, tablet and laptop. Technology has come a long way since most of us were in primary school, which is why it is important for us to know the dangers children can face online today, and how to educate children about them.
Dangers can be found online in the following places:
- Instant messages
- Computer games built-in chat rooms
- Text messages
- Social media
Bullying is a big issue, as it has moved from its traditional location of the schoolyard at lunchtime, to online, where it can happen anywhere and at any time. Cyberbullies and cybercriminals are able to communicate through instant messaging via social media apps and even computer game chat rooms! If you are being harassed online, block the individual to prevent them from further contacting you.
Email fraud is very common, with cybercriminals impersonating trusted individuals using phishing scams and embedding malware in these fake emails. A good practice to get into is to not click the reply button if you are unsure whether the email is real. Send a new email to that person, as it requires you to manually enter the correct email address, so you don’t accidentally reply to the cybercriminal!
Social media is a huge topic. A large number of kids are using social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok. The biggest point we need to educate, is don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t want the world to see. What goes on the internet stays on the internet forever, even if you delete it, it is probably floating around cyber space somewhere, which is quite scary to think about!
Another important point we need to educate is to have all social media accounts set to private and to only add people you know. Having accounts on Facebook and Instagram set to private is important, so you can patrol who can and who cannot see what you’re posting.
Earlier this year TikTok announced that all under-16 accounts will automatically be set to private. This change was made as an attempt to stop online predatory behavior. On Snapchat there is no private or public setting on the app. Users need to type in a friends exact username to the letter to add someone, otherwise you might be adding a stranger!
When adding and accepting people Snapchat, always double check and make sure you are adding your friends. A reason why Snapchat is a popular app with kids is because of its disappearing function, as photos and messages disappear after being viewed. Again, educate that what goes on the internet stays on the internet forever, and not to post anything online that you wouldn’t want the world to see.
What can we do to help keep kids safe online?
- Educate yourself about the internet. Learn about the platforms kids are hanging out on and how they work.
- Set guidelines for what your kids can and cannot do online. Befriend your kids online so you can see what they are posting.
- Teach your kids not to share personal information online
- Encourage your kids to talk to you if they are having a problem online
- Have regular conversations about internet use
The internet has become an even bigger part of everyone’s lives and we are constantly all connected. It is not all bad; it can be a great way to communicate with friends and family. Being aware of these dangers and educating kids about them can help keep us all safe online.