The internet has brought considerable benefits to young people. They can connect easily, organize parties, study groups, or buy sports tickets. They can access information for school or college, watch a vast library of TV and movies, and generally control their lives in unprecedented ways. However, the online world can be dangerous too, with an online threat around every corner. So here are our top five online dangers that kids have to deal.
Cyberbullying has become big news in recent years, making it our number one online threat to young people. With the rise of social media as a crucial aspect of young peoples’ lives, they come into contact with far more strangers. And they can also compete with the people they know, whether it’s for Facebook likes or Instagram glory.
Around 33% of American teens report being subjected to online bullying, so it’s an epidemic. But according to Enough is Enough, only 7% of parents say that they are concerned about the problem. And that’s a problem in itself.
2 Access to adult content
Children shouldn’t have access to pornography or violent content, but as even the briefest survey of the web confirms, the internet is crawling with it. What’s more, American parents probably aren’t aware of where kids are accessing this kind of material.
On average, boys are 13, and girls are 14 when they first view adult material online. But according to a 2016 University of Indiana survey, parents radically underestimate how much their children are exposed to pornography.
Moreover, many filters claim to block porn but don’t deliver. So parents need to become much more savvy about what their kid view, and how to limit their access.
3 Phishing and online fraud
In recent years, phishers have started to target younger internet users in a big way. Part of this could be the trend towards “sharing,” where parents share their payment details with kids to access online services and games.
But mostly, the problem occurs when kids fall victim to online scams. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, over 1 million American children were affected by online fraud in 2017.
A big chunk of this involves sophisticated identity thefts, where thieves create virtual profiles of young people. These profiles can then be used to access credit, even if the person concerned is under 18. Few parents realize that tools like VPNs can help to neutralize these thieves by anonymizing kids’ browsing activities. So the problem grows and grows.
4 Online predators
Cyber predators have long been in the news. Ever since chat rooms were invented, older people (generally men) have used them to make contact with young, vulnerable targets – often with tragic results. While public awareness of cyber predators has risen, it’s still a huge issue.
Social media is a playground for these predators, giving them instant access to unprotected accounts. But it’s not the only danger area. Online gaming forums are possibly even riskier, and less well policed.
So you need to talk to your kids about how they interact with strangers online, even people they meet while playing World of Warcraft.
Malware can be used to harvest personal data, hold computers or smartphones for ransom, or to spy on young people as they use the internet. It’s also a huge problem, and kids are a major target.
For instance, malware can easily be injected into free smartphone games, collecting data entirely silently. Kids also tend to be less disciplined about downloading apps from third-party repositories, or about streaming and torrenting. Both can be vectors for some extremely nasty malware.
Because of this, all parents should invest in antivirus software and VPNs. We know kids are going to make some mistakes on the web. The trick is to make sure the effects of these mistakes aren’t catastrophic.
Take steps to improve your kids’ online safety situation
If you’re unsure about how to neutralize these dangers, help is at hand. Check out this parent’s guide to online safety from VPNpro, and take action today. That way, your kids can enjoy the benefits of the internet, and you won’t need to worry about any online threat when they are logged on.