Violence, sex and harassment on the internet, a lurking danger for kids and teens, parents often don’t know how to protect their kids while many surf the Internet without control amongst these dangers.
Joseph Brown is a 15 year old kid who spends all day online which is not uncommon as 88% of kids rooms have some type of internet access. In addition the skyrocketing use of cellphones adds to this problem as this mini communication center also serves as a game console, TV and MP3 player.
“We have a class wide chat, if I don’t connect to it I won’t know what’s happening, for example I could miss my homework. I can not imagine what it would be like to live without a cellphone” comments Joseph Brown.
Joseph’s mother, Karen Brown believes that today’s children are the experts in the digital world: “It demands a lot of energy trying to stay ahead of them, controlling them and trying to find out what they do and what websites they surf at all times” she says.
The ability to navigate from the cellphone allows teens to be more exposed since a simple search is enough to access violent or sexual content. Many middle and high school kids post images or videos without being aware of the repercussions, where something as harmless as a selfie, may become subject to blackmail or harassment on the internet.
“In my school there was a boy who was bullied and many others in the class branded him as stinky. They put pictures of him on Facebook next to the word skunk“, comments Joseph. Linda Davis one of Joseph’s classmates adds: “I met a girl who had a selfie in a bikini on her cellphone. During a school trip someone stole her phone and sent that picture to all her contacts.”
As Linda and Joseph, 1 in 3 teenagers know someone that has been bullied on the Internet. In worst cases, private photos taken with cellphones are shared along with a phone number. Many cellphones are stolen or taken to cyber bully others, in these scenarios children and parents can use applications such as MyAntiTheft to track where the phone is, take a picture of the person that is using it and block access to other apps and content in the phone.
However, these psychological attacks put children against the wall. Experts warn about the seriousness of cyber bullying but it’s even more important that parents and teachers talk about this situations with their kids. It’s best to delete all data and call the police in the most serious cases where private pictures make it out to social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
Another problem is video game violence, although many are for adults only, children have little difficulty in accessing them. Luckily, there is special software to protect children such as Kids Safe Browser or K9 Web Protection Browser where the goal is to filter content allowing only authorized images and text to be shown while blocking prohibited websites.
And being no less relevant, it is necessary to warn kids about risky downloads and other services requiring payment as in many cases these can be phishing sites that contain malware. This can be difficult as these sites and apps are not always easily recognizable by both kids and adults, thus it is necessary to use an antivirus app such as MyAntivirus to help block these threats.
It is important to be aware that a single click can lead to a significant family expense. Simple mistakes can be a learning experience but they can also wreck havoc and will go to show that on the internet, anyone can be fooled.