The internet is full of interesting things that everyone wants to spend time exploring. Children can enjoy playing games, connect with friends and learn online. The internet opens up a big world for the little ones, and without proper care, one thing can lead to another and endanger their lives.
However, the digital world is always changing, and therefore, it is important to train children how to protect themselves while on the internet. Being the most vulnerable group on the internet, children know nothing about privacy and need an adult’s guidance on how to stay safe. There are many risks that a child is exposed to including screen addiction, sexual extortion, discrimination, cyberbullying and many others. How do you train a child to stay safe?
Cyber bullying is one of the most painful experiences that one can face online. Even adults get mental torture due to online bullying because most perpetrators do it anonymously. This vile practice affects children and as a parent or guardian; you must teach him or her how to protect themselves. Some of the red flags of a bully are threats and blackmail messages, which are meant to instill fear in a child. Let your child know that there ways of staying away from such people. Help the child adjust privacy and security settings. Most social networks also have to block options to get the individual responsible for the bullying out of their way. Also, let them know that it is possible to report bullying to appropriate authorities. If cyber bullying happens, tell them to keep the evidence such as screenshots, which will come handy when reporting.
Children can be distressed by discriminatory comments, materials or websites made by some people or groups online. Most discriminatory remarks are based on features such as age, disability, race or gender. Train your children how to block individuals or a group of people sending them discriminatory comments. Let them know they can talk about it with a trusted person such as the parent or their teacher.
Grooming is one of the common risks that children face when they go online. This is a process where an adult connects emotionally with a child with the intention of taking advantage of them sexually. There is no defined pattern, but most of them will ask for images that they later use to blackmail the child. Young ones who are below sixteen years may not realize they are being groomed because the offender spends a lot of time befriending the child to earn their trust.
Train your child to avoid strangers, especially those who show them a lot of attention, buy them gifts and ask them to share secrets. Offenders are adept at getting a lot of information from kids. These kinds of people may intend to meet children in real life and abuse them sexually while others simply do it online by asking for nude images and videos.
Illegal content is found in different forms, but the most common one is adult content. Every parent would be distressed if they knew someone exposed their underage kids to sexual content. It is so easy to share this content online as most people only send a link via instant messengers or emails. Train your child to avoid clicking any links or opening emails sent to them by strangers. There are reporting tools on social media sites that can be used to alert the service provider. Let the child know they can use hotlines provided by the social media site or app and report the case immediately.Privacy
Children do not know much about maintaining privacy online. They need to be taught good practices on how to manage their online profiles, choosing strong passwords and many others. It’s important to note that people with criminal records aren’t the only one’s who could blackmail them or try to mess around with their social network profiles. Do let them know what type of information to share with friends and what type to keep private. Some friends might know their passwords and access their social media accounts to post inappropriate content. Let them know they should never sext, share partially nude or any self-generated explicit material with friends. This content can be used to destroy their reputation the moment they fall out with friends.
Sexual perpetrators engage in a friendly manner to lure innocent children. They do that to obtain sexual videos or images, and afterward, they start making sexual or financial demands. The offender can threaten to share the content that they persuaded a child to produce. You can train your child not fall into such traps. He or she should block anyone who tries to convince them to send sexual images or videos. Remember that even though most social media sites can remove such images as soon as it is reported, other users are likely to take screenshots, which keep resurfacing on the internet for years. Train your child to restrain from sharing nude or sexual images and videos with anyone online.
Once again, it’s important to remember that people with criminal records or child predators aren’t the only ones who use sexual extortion. It’s known to happen in teen or even adult relationships.
Unwanted contact from unknown people
Most individuals who send a friend request to children that are not known to in real life are malicious. They are offenders who want to exploit the children in many ways. Teach your child not to respond to such contacts and block them if they start sending any messages. They may not be sexual or abusive in any way, but it’s still not safe.
Train your children that at no point should they share their phone number or address online. No one should convince them to give out their personal information because they cannot tell who is talking to them online. Some offenders pretend to be the same age as your children while they are adults with malicious intentions.
Warn them about meeting people they connect with online as this is how they become victims of online sexual predators. Talk to your child and help them set all their profiles to private. If possible, be checking regularly and make sure your home address or phone number is not shared publicly. Lastly, let the child know they can come to you anytime they feel threatened or harassed online.