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The modern-day kid faces major online threats that parents may not be aware of. Teaching kids about cybersecurity has become more important due to the extent to which children experience online insecurities. It's high time that parents step up to the task.
Let's face reality: presently, at least three in five children can access the internet, and on average, they spend 45 hours a week online. These statistics imply that kids are now more vulnerable to cyberbullying than ever before, and neglecting to teach our kids about cybersecurity can lead to some big consequences.
Securing Your Children's Online Privacy is Critical
Cybertrauma is real. From social media posts that can haunt a child for many years later to cyber predators, online threats can have costly or even disastrous consequences.
Kids often may unintentionally expose their entire families to internet hazards. One common privacy issue is webcam hacking. This involves cybercriminals using a hacked webcam as an entry point to introducing malware into your device. Cyber invaders can capture private information through these cameras. Even worse, they can use the data captured to take advantage of your family.
In this way, they can gain access to your personal information like financial details. For example, a child can accidentally download malware that could give cybercriminals access to sensitive private information like their parents' bank account details. In such cases, using a viable residential proxy is vital to maintain anonymity. In an age of online classes, this is the best way to combat cyber criminals.
It also helps to understand that hackers can access your webcam via an unsecured wireless connection. So, to give your kids additional protection whenever they use your webcam for online activities, consider using a proxy.
When using a proxy, all activities between your device and the websites you link to are done through a proxy IP address. This hide your device's IP address, so all the sensitive details in your device remain safe and hidden from the invasion of hackers. Therefore, proxies give you and your kids a more secure experience when using your webcam online, like during a Zoom meeting.
This is one of the ways you can help secure your kids against some of the online threats. But, another critical safety measure is having open dialogue with your children about cybersecurity.
Why Teaching Kids About Cybersecurity is Important
You'll Empower Them with Skills Needed to Protect Themselves Online
By equipping kids with the essential skills required to protect themselves online, you will authorize them not to fear possible threats. And by showing them some proactive skills from an early age, you will equip the young ones to know how to stay safe amidst numerous internet threats.
Let's look at some critical matters that you can address when teaching kids about cybersecurity:
- What should I do if someone makes me feel bad?
- What information should I reveal to people online? (and what I'm not allowed to talk about online)
- I should never entertain strangers online.
- I should know how to check if a website is real or fake.
- Be careful to stay away from websites with negative influences.
- I need to create strong passwords for my online sites and using my phone for two-factor verification.
- I should always engage parents for any online issues.
- I should never reveal my individual or family matters online, including posting my pictures on the internet.
- I should avoid spending too much time on the internet.
- I should be careful not to fall victim to phishing emails and malicious texts. Avoid clicking on links that pop up on sites at any time.
You'll Help Eliminate Fear and Instill Security and Open-Mindedness
Research indicates that; 15% of young cyberbullying victims would rather keep the issue secretive. Unfortunately, a lot of children who may be experiencing cyberbullying cannot talk about it openly. Yet, cases of harassment are at alarming rates.
Statistics reveal that, by February 2018, about 47% of all children had fallen victims to cyberbullying. Online games and social media platforms are today's open playground, and that's where a lot of cyberbullying happens.
Kids can be mocked on social media sites. Furthermore, they can be exploited in online gaming, converting the game from a form of adventure into an embarrassing ordeal. Worse still, cyberbullying can intensify across numerous online platforms and into real life. Sadly, these are things that cause depression and instill suicidal thoughts amongst most kids and teenagers.
The best way to make kids feel loved and secure against the traumas of cyberbullying is by openly and comfortably talking to them about what's ongoing online. You should encourage them not to fear and teach them to feel free to engage you in any cyber insecurities they might face.
Don't assume that your kids will always come to you seeking help when facing issues with online insecurities. Mostly, children feel that they might end up in more trouble if they ask for help. Take an example when, for some reason, your child breaks one of the online rules you had discussed with them earlier. In such a scenario, the kid may face a dilemma: if they seek your advice, they might get into more trouble breaking the rules.
It's important to let your children know that they'll always have your support whenever they need it. Encourage them that you'll try to find the positives, which you can both learn from to avoid such issues from happening again.
Children might also worry that they've caused trouble on themselves and that the parent won't understand. This is especially the case with cyberbullying in the digital world. It helps to give your kids the chance to speak about their feelings and concerns. Even if the matter sounds petty, listen because it might be a traumatizing issue to them. This is the only way your children will be open to you in the future, and together, you can overcome issues of cyber insecurities.
You'll Help Boost Their Self-Confidence
Too much time spent on social media may lead to some mental health effects in children. Most adolescent girls are more likely to experience cyberbullying, especially with the harassment that may come with activities like posting their photos online.
Continuous exposure to filters and photoshops may also lead to poor body image for young boys and girls. You may find that these adolescents spend hours on the internet staring at photos of super skinny girls and muscular guys. This is an issue that is affecting the self-image of young people. Our kids need comprehensive guidance on how to identify unrealistic and altered images online and ignore them. Parents also need to make it the norm for their children to always appreciate themselves.
So, how can you encourage your children to develop positive body images and not get overwhelmed with the idealized images on social media?
- Help them think critically about the images they view online
- Encourage them not to look at every image they see online- They should focus only on the positive images.
- Talk positively about their body images.
You'll Maintain Privacy and Keep Them Safe Even in Your Absence
It's important to always talk to your children about the impacts of sharing sensitive information on social media platforms. They also need to know the risks of engaging with strangers online. Remember that you can choose to use parental controls on their computers or mobile devices if you prefer to monitor your kids' online activities.
Let them know that you're doing your best to protect them since what matters most is their security. Always remind them that if something goes wrong even in your absence, they should not fear to talk to you as a parent. That way, you can walk hand in hand with your children to maintain their privacy and your security as a family.
You'll Help Combat Issues of Depression and Suicide
When children experience cyber traumas, they may end up depressed, hence withdrawing from family and friends. Just as it is with teenagers and adults, cyberbullying in kids is linked to low self-esteem, anger, frustration, suicidal thoughts, and many other emotional and psychological issues. As a result, a child may end up showing extreme antisocial behaviors, engaging in drug and substance use, or even criminal behaviors.
Unfortunately, such behaviors may eventually lead to suicide. Research shows that students are almost twice likely to try on suicide when cyberbullied. It's important more than ever for parents to start educating their kids on the consequences of addiction to internet activities.
Most importantly, parents must be great role models for children to emulate them. Ensure that you practice healthy and responsible online behaviors at all times. For example, try to limit the time you spend online, especially when your kids are around. That way, they can learn from your behavior.
Gone are the days when kids were ignorant of online happenings. That's why there's no better time to educate kids about cybersecurity than now.
Being a parent comes with the greatest duty that every responsible parent must face heads on. You undoubtedly want your kids to explore the world and benefit from exciting opportunities. But, you must also ensure that your kids are well-protected amidst the increased danger of cyber insecurities.
Ask yourself: are the devices my kids use a channel for their positive growth and learning? Or is it exposing them to dangerous situations?
The tips above should help you in teaching kids about cybersecurity and its importance. You'll not only help keep them safe, but you'll also empower them with the skills they need to take charge of their online securities.
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- Teaching Kids How To Stay Safe on the Internet
- Teaching Your Kids to Search Safely Online
- What Are you teaching your kids about social media
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