Once a parent, always a parent. Both new and current parents use all sorts of resources to help raise their kids. Maybe 'raise' is a strong word, but parents use as many helpful resources as possible to get tips and tricks on this challenging yet rewarding life role.
Everything is so digitized now that kids grow up with the internet/technology as their other sibling. So it is no wonder parents are frantically looking for ways to ensure their kids are safe online. When you type "what are the dangers of kids being online," "my kids are online, what should I be ready for," and "is it safe to be online as a kid," you will find a plethora of resources and a million and one reasons. This blog will add to the wealth of resources to inform parents of online dangers for their young. After all, who has ever complained of knowing too much?
The internet and its usage or impact are multifaceted. Don't get me wrong; it is not all bad. There are so many good things about being online and having access to the internet. You get to connect with friends and family across the globe and make new friends based on mutual interests or for the most random reasons. You get to learn and stay up to date with current affairs, join social or religious movements, research topics for school/work/leisure, and, my favorite (which we must all stop), we get to self-diagnose. Internet usage has enabled us to be self-proclaimed doctors and medical assistants. The pandemic made me appreciate the internet to a whole new level because so many of us got to learn new skills, earn degrees, and change entire career paths just from being online! Wow! Without looking at resources like Coursera, Udemy, or Kajabi, when you turn to good ol' YouTube, there are so many educational yet entertaining videos for folks of all ages to learn! But let's be honest, when you put such a powerful tool in the hands of such young yet curious minds, we cannot be assured that that is all they are doing and learning!
Kids are on all sorts of social media channels. They share their information, creativity, jokes, pictures, videos, games, and even exchange clothes online. Weird right? No. I found it even more interesting that people could form their own virtual reality online before META launched its virtual world. Yes, when your 10-year-old daughter who just threw a tantrum for being forced to eat that last broccoli logs in online, she can form an entire reality as a 20-year-old mother with two kids, a dog, and a weird-looking husband on a virtual reality game. The sad part is, sometimes, this virtual reality is not simply a game; our kids can have very different lives on their social media by setting up profiles with other information. Different names, locations, and the scary part, MUCH older than they are. The plus side of this is that at least they are not giving out personally identifiable information online but putting up the wrong age will expose them to content that should be censored.
Let's delve more into some other dangers of having your kids active on the internet:
Some parents have had the disadvantage of hearing that their kids have been victims of bullying in school. Sadly, in some cases, you do not have to hear it, but you see the physical and emotional impact bullying has on your kids. Cyberbullying has a similar effect too. Cyberbullying is a form of harassment or bullying on the internet or via electronic means, like through texts. It can take various forms, such as sending threatening posts or harmful content about someone else. A survey showed that more than 60% of children had been cyberbullied. What an alarming statistic!
Phishing is a type of cybercrime where the scammer tries to trick you into revealing personally identifiable information such as your house address, phone number, and total government name. It's a common form that can be via email. Imagine your child clicking on an email because its flashy lettering had said he had worn a 3-day tour to Disneyland, but all he had to do was click on a link in the mail. Once that is done, boom. Information on your family's computer can be infiltrated. Phishing also comes in the form of fake websites that look very legitimate or instant messages from a number that looks familiar. Sometimes, it can also be from a very random number.
3. Cyber Predators
This is one of the scariest reasons to keep things in check regarding your kid's social media usage or online presence. Entering the wormhole of Parent TikTok, for instance, greatly discourages parents from posting their children online. There has been an upsurge of some TikTok mums realizing that strange profiles of older men bookmark/save their kids' content- kids as young as ten months old. CREEPY!
Sexual predators and harassers have been using the internet as a tool to continue in their devious and disgusting ways. Some of them pose as fellow young girls or fun dads/mums who care about your child's well-being. Unfortunately, once your child, thinking that this world is so good and innocent, agrees to meet up with this predator, the child is exposed to dangerous encounters they may not be able to be saved from. It has become common knowledge that gaming platforms have become a very popular site for these vile people as such platforms give them the needed anonymity to prey on the innocence of kids.
4. Downloading malware or viruses
Malware is any software designed to cause damage, disrupt, or gain authorized access to the computer. Now picture this, your sweet child is playing his favorite arcade game on the internet, and a big yellow flashy button pops up. *You know how curious kids can be, especially when objects are super shiny and tempting. * Your child clicks on this button and boom! Malware has been installed onto your work laptop that you can lend to him for an hour. Now the presentation you worked on for tomorrow has been compromised, and your computer has suddenly started blinking. Your child throws a tantrum because his game has been interrupted. But you are angry, sad, confused, and all the possible waves of emotions because your presentation and ALL your work are gone. The malware has damaged almost everything because you allowed your child to play games on your laptop unsupervised.
As I mentioned before, all of this can be prevented. With the help of 1600 Avenue, we can ensure that you, your children, and your community have protection against the dangers that the online world can present. Click here for more information about how we can help you.