By Sapphire Girod
Brand Experience Officer, Reputation Management
Unit Trust Corporation
As many of us are now confined to our homes, technology is at the core to making things easier and more convenient: work meetings, banking, shopping, entertainment and the list goes on.
For your children, it is now online learning but there are dangers lurking that you may not even know about.
Do you know what your children are doing online?
Here are 4 Online Dangers
As smart as you know your child to be, online predators can easily disguise themselves as harmless “friends”. These predators lurk on social media and gaming platforms, gaining the trust of young ones, sometimes having lewd conversations, encouraging the sharing of personal details, exchanging photos, exposing them to inappropriate behaviours and even luring them to meet in person.
It is a method devised to try and trick people into clicking on malicious links or attachments. It can be in the form of emails that appear to be from someone you know or “Pop up” advertisements online claiming that you have won a prize. It may be difficult for young ones to detect the danger. One click is all it takes to access your email addresses, contact lists, photos, credit card details and other personal information.
Bullying can occur in the real world and even in the online space. Your child may be the subject of mean comments, messages and posts, unknown to you. They may be left out of online gaming or messaging groups. This can increase stress and feelings of isolation. They may also engage in bullying online themselves.
Anything that happens online, stays online. Young adults may not see the risks of posting photos or statuses on their social media pages. As an adult, these things may come back to haunt them when looking for employment or networking.
Also, lack of face to face interaction with friends and partners may lead to young persons taking risks they normally may not, such as sexting and sharing nude pictures and videos. These images can be shared with others without consent, causing shame, guilt or even extortion.
Helpful Tips To Protect Your Children
1. Educate and Empower Your Child
The best way to prevent your child from falling prey to online dangers, is to ensure they are aware of the dangers so when faced with a situation, they can make wise choice online.
2. Be Alert to Stress Signs
Your child may be quietly experiencing some form of distress. Be observant, ask questions, listen without judgement and remain calm. If cyber-bullying has occurred, collect the evidence, report the incident to the relevant authorities and social media service and block the offender(s).
3. Become Net Aware
Know the Apps, Games, Sites and Social Media Platforms of your children. Ensure it is age appropriate and well managed, limit messaging and chats or location sharing. Ensure privacy settings are customized to restrict unwanted persons from contacting them.
4. Set Limits on Technology
Prepare a Family Technology Plan to manage expectations around where and when technology use is allowed in the home. This can help balance screen and off-screen time.
5. Build an Open Trusting Relationship
Keep communication open and supportive so your child knows that no matter the situation, they can come to you if something goes wrong and talk about anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.