In today’s fast-moving world, children are more tech-savvy than they were a decade ago. More children know how to operate a laptop or a smartphone, with computer studies now available in schools. The unfortunate bit is that even as the children become technologically advanced, they still don’t know how to stay safe online.
Hackers and pedophiles have a field day when naïve children are online as they are easy to trick. The internet is tailored for adults, and most of these children tend to go online unsupervised. It is likely that these children will end up stumbling on dangerous sites that might contain viruses, or worse, pornography.
There are several ways to protect your children from the dangers lurking on the internet, now and in the times to come.
1. Have a conversation with them
The internet is all fun and games for children. It is up to parents to make them aware that it also has a dark side if not used well. There are bad characters who prey on children’s innocence, and the sooner they understand that, the safer they will be. Teach them not to ever chat with strangers online, or even share their personal information such as where they live or go to school.
If they receive an email or friend request that is suspicious, ask them to report to you. A suspicious email might be an email from a friend asking a rather obvious question. That could be a hacker. Ask them to report a second friend request from a friend, or a stranger. These red flags should be something older kids are capable of noticing. Younger kids should stay away from social media. It is easier and safer for everyone.
They may not understand attacks such as phishing or other cybersecurity concerns, but have a talk with them in a language they can understand, and have them ask questions. Hackers often keep up with the latest technological advancements, so ensure your children are aware of the dangers as hackers keep evolving their scams.
2. Keep track of all devices the children use
If you are able to keep track of all the devices used by the children to log into the internet, you can prevent them from talking to strangers, visiting strange sites or getting cyberbullied. Ensure you set for them personal clouds. Set up the devices they use to access the web. Set a passcode that only you know and make sure all the devices have blocks on any suspicious sites.
If you are not very tech-savvy, get someone who is to teach you and the kids the basis. Technology is the future, and it behooves you to be conversant with the current technologies to be able to keep up with the trends.
3. Social media restriction
Today’s children, as young as 8 years old have accounts on social media sites such as Snapchat and Instagram. They share photos and interact with each other, and with the advent of Augmented and Virtual reality technology, more young children and teenagers are more likely to get involved in social media. These social media groups collect a huge amount of personal data that is normally pegged on young kids browsing history.
This data is sold to third parties who use it to target them for ads or create new products. Every day, a new child enters new personal information and the data keeps accumulating. Restriction of soil media for the very young is advisable. Let them share their passwords so that you can monitor their activity.
4. Install a VPN
Virtual Private Networks are the present and future of browsing safety. We are all guilty of a love of free Wi-Fi, more so kids. They tend to log in on literally any free network they come across. VPN is the way to go. VPNs create a secure network to enable your kids to connect to the internet safely and anonymously.
Sometimes it is hard to monitor children, especially teenagers. To protect them, install a VPN, but steer away from free VPNs. Free VPNs tend to be compromised by third parties and sell your data. Internet privacy in the future will be determined on how well informed your children are to the dangers that are present today.
5. Check the child’s browsing history
Check your child’s web browser and check for web history to see which websites they have been visiting. To check what they have deleted, go to the recycle bin. They might be visiting sites not meant for children. Some video games they play online are forums that pedophiles use to prey on young children. Kidnappers may also use these sites to find out more about the child, the family, and their ability to pay a ransom. To be safe, set age restrictions to dangerous or suspicious sites.
In years to come, the right to access the internet that is untracked may be a basic right for all children. This will be a loss of revenue for companies that make lots of money from mining personal data.
Things are changing the world over, and Africa is not getting left behind. With smartphones getting cheaper, most kids, especially teenagers have access to a smartphone, which means internet access. They spend most of their time on social media sites such as Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook.
Kidnappers and pedophiles take advantage of naïve children browsing the internet. Hackers infect home or school network systems with viruses that wreak havoc. Children must be made aware of how hackers work and how to stay safe from such predators.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) – ftc.gov
How to Protect Our Kids’ Data and Privacy – wired.com
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