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Internet Safety for 5 – 13 Year Olds…Five Things Parents Need To Know

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Every day you see big companies in the headlines, news bulletins peddling scary statistics and a whole load of scaremongering on social media regarding cyber security and how it’s going to get us all! Sure, wealthy businessmen, high powered politicians, celebrities, premier league footballers and popular social media influencers will all need a decent level of protection, but pragmatically speaking, what is the actual risk for us everyday folk?

The reality is this. There is a hell of a lot of scaremongering that goes on by companies pushing cyber security products, but there is still a risk posed to everyday people. It might not be as big and scary as firms like Symantec and McAfee would have us believe but there are certainly a few things we need to be doing. This article focuses on what the key threats are for our young kids (5 – 13 year olds) and some pointers on how to keep them safe.

The 5 key threats to 5 – 13 year olds;

1. Cyber Bullying

Bullying is no longer limited to the playground. With every re-tweet and share, your children will be forced to re-live these horrible experiences over and over again in the safety of their own bedrooms. Research has shown that cyber bullying leads to considerably more emotional distress than the traditional kind. It can occur via multiple avenues;

• Direct communication (phone, mobile, text message, email)
• Social media (posts to walls, social media messaging)
• Online gaming (cat messaging and voice conversations)
• Fake profile and blogs created to embarrass spread rumours about others

What can we do about it?

o Review privacy settings on our mobile devices so we’re not accidentally giving too much personal information out to the world
o Educate our family and friends about the risks, what to look out for and how to respond
o Social media privacy settings and controls ensure only those people we want to contact us, can do so
o Parental controls allow an additional level of oversight and can help bullying progressing further

2. Sextortion

Sextortion is where someone we don’t know uses nude or explicit media (photos or video) of us to extort us out of large sums of money. They might have sent you an image which is actually malware, enabling them to take remote control your webcam and record you naked or even masturbating. Revenge porn is similar but where someone you know (usually a jilted ex) posts explicit media of you online in an attempt to humiliate or ruin your reputation.

What can we do about it?

o Install anti-virus on all kids’ devices (laptops, mobiles and PCs)
o Educate kids on how to recognise these types of attacks (e.g. strangers asking for nude images)
o Install a webcam cover on any devices with a front facing camera that sits upright most of the day (e.g. PC webcam facing the room or a laptop that is often left open)

3. Explicit Content

This refers to kids accessing inappropriate media online (video, images or text) which has a harmful impact on them. We're not just talking about drugs or porn. It could be as simple as your six year old son searching on your iPad for "pirates"...the results of which list a number of YouTube videos of Somali pirates boarding western oil tankers and they catch the start of the beheading of the ship’s captain. It could be an online game promoting self-harm or suicide. It could be adult ads on a mobile app.

What can we do about it?

o The best protection is education – teaching kids that there is horrible stuff online, how to avoid it and why they should do so
o Secure browser – ensure your using a secure browser with the right security and privacy settings
o An internet content filter helps blocks adult content (all good parental control programs have these)

4. Online Predators

Social media sites and online games provide sexual predators with the perfect tools to impersonate young children, browse and select their victims and then communicate with them out of their parent’s sight. The internet has given them such a strong platform that the term ‘super predator’ has been coined. Intelligence agencies have found ‘training schools’ on the dark web with thousands of paedophiles sharing tips on how to groom children the fastest, avoid law enforcement/parents, how to get nude media quickly and even methods on how to abduct the child. As such, we need to step up our game as parents.

What can we do about it?

o Parental controls can ensure that you see all the people who are trying to contact your kids. You can then action early to block them and educate your kids on how to do so themselves.
o Ensure the privacy settings on our kid’s mobile devices are sufficient tight and secure. This ensure they’re not accidentally giving too much personal information out to the world that predators can use against them
o Educate our kids on how strangers tend to get in touch with them so they know what to look out for and learn to tell you
o Tight social media privacy settings ensure that profiles are discoverable by strangers in searches so that they remain hidden and only visible to genuine friends

5. Social Media & Account Hacking

A recent study by security firm Norton found that children are often the weak link in family security, often being the ones unwittingly downloading viruses, clicking malicious links and sharing passwords without knowing the full impact. As a result, cyber criminals are increasingly targeting children devices in order to get access to the more sensitive data held by their parents. At the moment, this seems to be in the form of social media or email hijacking where criminals take controls of these accounts so they have access to all our contacts who they then try and scam!

What can we do about it?

o Use a password manager for both you (and your kids) online accounts. It means you don’t need only remember one master password and you can have long secure passwords for each individual online account…it makes using passwords a breeze!
o Have anti-virus installed on all devices
o Ensure you back-ups your data and home devices in case your kids accidentally download a virus which erases your devices or personal data!

Those are the five main threats to our younger generation. I’ve explored at a high level what protect you can put in place but there isn’t enough space in this article to show you how to get that protection in place. I appreciate it’s easy to say “have tight security and privacy settings on your social media” but really what you need is a video tutorial showing you exactly what settings to select.

If this is of interest, visit www.simplecyberlife.com/home now and you have a wealth of resources you can use to get your protection in place!

Remember, this article has focused specifically on the threats to young kids (5 – 13 year olds) but there are other threats to ourselves as parents too, such as financial fraud and identity theft! To find out more about these and what the totality of protection is that we need as a family, visit this link now.

I really hope you found that article informative. I love to answer any questions you have, so do just reach out and get in touch or leave a comment below!

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