In the US alone, 95% of young people and children between 9 and 17 have access to the internet. There are 24 million people in this age group who use the world wide web to do schoolwork (76%), watch videos (77%), exchange messages (79%), and access social networks (73%), among other activities.
While it is a teaching and entertainment tool, the internet can also threaten young people’s physical and mental health. More than a third (39%) were discriminated against online. Among the reasons for the offenses are race or skin color (26%), physical characteristics (16%), and sexual orientation (14%).
Not only evil colleagues can harm these young Internet users. Cybercriminals also target children and teenagers to obtain confidential information, steal identities, hack devices and even get pornographic material.
Other countries are already more mature in terms of protecting children’s data. Since 2000, the United States has had a law that requires elementary schools and libraries to use internet filters and take other measures to protect children from potentially offensive content. If they do not comply with the law, institutions cannot rely on specific funding provided by the US federal government.
Therefore, it is essential to take some measures to ensure that the little ones safely use the internet, social networks, and communication tools.
See below some of the main risks children and adolescents run on the internet and learn how to avoid them.
Every father and every mother needs to guide their children about what they should and should not reveal on the internet. On social media, children should not share information that shows their location, where they live, or what school and places they attend.
Cybercriminals can use this data in various ways; to commit sensitive data theft, threats, and other crimes. Therefore, until the child is mature enough to understand what risks he is taking, parents need access to what their children are posting and who they are talking to.
Another common problem is the exposure of children to content that is not appropriate for their age. One way to deal with this is to install software that limits minors’ access to inappropriate videos, websites, and other pages. These programs also let parents know what sites their children have been to so they can monitor any type of danger they are exposed to.
Research shows that the excessive use of digital devices causes various harm, such as social isolation, obesity, and even diseases such as anxiety and depression. That is why the most recommended thing for children is that they have a specific time to use cell phones, tablets, and computers, which should not exceed a few tens of minutes. In this way, the child can dedicate himself to other activities, such as playing and studying.
Children may be frightened if peers or strangers threaten them. Instead of telling their parents, they prefer silence. The ideal is to create a relationship of trust with the little ones so that they can notify them if something happens. Always keep a space to talk with your children and encourage them to seek your help if they feel intimidated.
As in real life, the internet can be used by those close to you to physically or mentally abuse a child. Friends, relatives, teachers, and others in their social life may try to manipulate or intimidate young people through social media, emails, or messaging apps. The child needs to be aware that this is wrong and to report suspicious behavior directly to their parents.
Children need parental guidance in all areas of their lives, and it’s no different when it comes to the internet. Once connected, the young person is exposed to various dangers. It is up to the parents to take steps to make her feel safe and welcomed.