A Safer Internet for Children: Parent Awareness and Education

Every time children step foot outside the front door, there are dangers lurking everywhere. But sometimes those threats could be hiding in plain sight, even when kids are in the same room as their parents. Of course, we’re talking about the internet and the potential pitfalls that live behind social media accounts and other seemingly harmless websites and pages.

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Online predators, cyberbullying, and phishing are just a few things to look out for. But sadly, the list of online threats goes deeper than that as do the advanced techniques used by the cyber criminals.

It’s very difficult for parents to keep tabs on their kid’s internet activity all of the time. Smart watches, tablets, and even trips to the local library can present children with different ways to access the internet. According to research conducted by Equifax:

  • 4 out of 5 parents have no clue what their kids post on their social media accounts.
  • 30% of parents are a follower of their kid’s social media accounts.
  • 1 in 5 parents take internet-enabled devices, like tablets and cell phones, at bedtime to reduce web use.

Unfortunately, these figures highlight the lack of awareness many parents show in regards to their children’s online activity. However, there is a simple solution for this: open discussion. As internet use grows, especially with pre-teens, it’s important for parents to talk about what they do and see online. Examples include making sure they are not being bullied and are kept away from any shocking or malicious content. If a child has seen something inappropriate, talking is the best way for them to understand and learn how to avoid it in future.

Additionally, the threats to our online safety can be of our own making. From the information and images parents and their children share to choosing guessable passwords, it’s vital for parents to educate themselves and their families about taking online safety. The Equifax research further states that less than half of parents (45%) realize content can remain visible online forever (even after it is deleted from an account). Also, that more than a quarter of parents would happily share images of others online without permission.

Online Safety: Things Parents Can Do To Help Their Kids

In a world with increasing online use, more education related to digital activity can be the difference between being safe online and unknowingly being conned or exploited.

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To raise awareness about the dangers the web can pose to all of us, particularly youngsters, International Safer Internet Day is celebrated annually. It was created almost a decade ago by several health and childcare charities co-funded by the European Union. This year the slogan was; “create, connect and share respect: A better internet starts with you.”   

Indeed, a better (and safer) internet for children starts with parents. In conjunction with youth charity Young Enterprise, Equifax has produced some useful resources about child protection online including this online safety ebook as well as the infographic above. Both show what steps we as parents, guardians, and teachers can take to shield children from malicious content and cyber criminals.

These days, with much of our time spent on the internet, it’s time we all look up and explain digital threats and online safety practices to children, sooner rather than later.

Guest Blog Author: Ardziv Simonian

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