Safer Internet Day: How to Protect Youth Online
This Safer Internet Day, use guest blogger Hilary Smith’s infographic to learn the facts and protect yourself and your family from online predators.
History has made it clear that the internet is a dangerous place – which is a problem, considering that the people most interested in using it are those too young to make good decisions about the information they share.
In fact, as mentioned by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, it’s estimated that there were over 50,000 people involved in sharing and downloading indecent pictures of children – and that’s not counting people outside the country, who can prey on children from anywhere in the world.
It’s Grooming, Not Kidnapping
Now, we all have fears about strangers sweet-talking children into being their friends and then running off with them, likely for some kind of sexual exploitation – but the truth is, this doesn’t happen very often.
Online predators are far more likely to focus on grooming children and genuinely forming some kind of relationship with them – and many may not even realize that what they’re doing is wrong.
It doesn’t help that children getting onto social media as soon as they can. In 2014, the Daily Mail reported that more than half of 10-year-olds had accounts on social media, some of which were on anonymous sites that easily allowed strangers to connect with them. These children are naturally inquisitive, and many never believe that someone would come after them – at least, not until it actually happens.
What Should Parents Do About This?
Talking to children about the dangers of the internet is not enough to protect them. Many children can be told the right thing to do on a constant basis, but will still go and do something wrong the moment they have the desire to – so parents need to be proactive about keeping children safe.
This can include things like tracking their phone, limiting the amount of time they can spend online, and preventing them from accessing social media until they’re old enough to make better decisions.
Whatever you choose to do, though, it’s best to start as early as possible – children who grow up with such restrictions are far less bothered by them than teens who feel like their freedom is being taken away.
Article submitted by Hilary Smith, a freelance journalist born and raised in Austin, Texas. Hilary’s love of gadgets, technology and business has no bounds. After becoming a parent, she now enjoys writing about family and parenting-related topics.
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