As parents, we want to know our kids are safe – but the online world is harder than the real one to control.
Today one in four people in the world is a child. In Nigeria, children under the age of 18 make up an estimated 52.44% of the population. By nature, they are also the most drawn to the internet, and will lead the digital transformation. They are also the most at risk to bullying and harassment.
As a parent myself, and because I work for a global technology company, I am all too aware of the risks of the online world. Luckily I also have insight into solutions and what to look out for.
Here are the most important things to be aware of when it comes keeping your children safe online.
One of the biggest forms of online harassment for children is cyber bullying. The online world presents the ideal platform for bullies to harass their victims. They’re no longer confined to the playground, but can partake in round-the-clock attacks via email, social media and instant messaging.
Recent statistics show that 52% of young people report being cyber bullied. Worryingly, more than half of young people surveyed said they never confide in their parents when they are bullied.
This means as a parent, it’s up to you to be aware of potentially cruel or risky behaviour taking place online by monitoring your children’s online activities, as well as offline behaviour that may signify your child as a victim. It’s also important to teach your children not to text or post anything online that would hurt or embarrass anyone else, or compromise themselves – 49% of youth have regretted something they have posted online. In this case, awareness and prevention is better than cure.
Malware and other online threats
It’s also important to be aware of the other threats being online can pose. These include malware and viruses that your children could inadvertently stumble upon while online. Criminals work relentlessly to seize control of your digital devices, compromise your email and text messages or spy on your online activities in an attempt to steal your identity or financial information. Children are particularly susceptible to these attacks because they can be lured with offers of free downloads or click on links without understanding the risk of exposure to viruses and scams.
One way to lessen this threat is to educate your children to be careful about the information they share online and protect their passwords. Teach them to think carefully about the connections they accept on social media and think before clicking on links or downloading content. This is also useful to ensure they are only exposed to content appropriate for their age or maturity.
Beyond education, it’s a good idea to consider filtering software, keep your software up to date and be the administrator of your home computer. Services such as Windows 10 Family Features also allow you to manage your family’s digital life across Windows PCs, Xbox and mobile devices. The service gives you the option to restrict the amount of hours your child spends online, and you can add money to your Microsoft account rather than allowing them to unnecessarily share your credit card details for purchases. What’s more, it allows you to find your child on a map when their phones are turned on; lets you check up on their online activities and block the unsuitable apps and websites.
Balancing the pros and cons of the online world
As a parent in the digital age, you should be allowing your children to enjoy the limitless information and opportunities that exist online, while not forgetting that it comes at a risk. The most effective way to do this is to make online safety a family effort, and combine guidance with monitoring of online activities.
By understanding the risks of the internet yourself, you are in a better position to help your children develop the skills and ethics they need to deal with situations, information and people on the web.
By Kayode Akomolafe