Hidden dangers every parent needs to beware of when it comes to digital safety.

The digital age that we live in nowadays is one of the greatest eras in human history. People have been able to connect and share information in a way that has never been seen before. Several digital mediums exist for people to consume information. Televisions, computers, tablets, phones and e-readers are just a few of the popular ways that we consume our digital media. With all the benefits that has come with the digital era, we are also faced with a new set of problems. The biggest concern is how the ease of accessibility of digital information and communication impacts children. There are hidden dangers that the parents of today are still learning. Ask yourself the following question.

Do you really know what your kids are getting up to these days?

In the past, people were mainly concerned with their whereabouts and the people that they would hang around. Nowadays, children are exposed to many different things that can influence or affect their behaviours for better or for worse. We live in a digital age and it is essential that we are diligent in the activities that children are getting up to. There is the possibility that they are exposed to serious threats without parents or guardians knowing. That is why the team from Australian Antennas have provided a summary of things to be aware of to keep kids safe in the digital age.

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The threats are very real.

Online predators are capitalising on young people’s naivety across digital devices. They are luring children on platforms using the Internet, such as social media platforms, chat rooms, web forums and instant messaging. People have been creating awareness to highlight and alert parents and guardians to the digital dangers that threaten children. YouTuber Coby Persin highlighted the issue with a social experiment that amassed over 40 million views. You can watch the full video below.

Dangers of social media – Coby Persin

Online bullying

Online bullying is a serious problem in the 21st century. Online bullies will purposely use hate speech to victimise their target, which can lead to anxiety, traumatic stress and even drive children to commit suicide. 52% of young people say they have experienced cyber bullying via their cell phone and on the internet and up to 55% of cyberbullying was cited as being done through social media.

If your child is or has suffered from online bullying, you can advise your children to take the following actions.

  • Don’t respond to the bully.
  • Don’t retaliate.
  • Save the evidence
  • Block the bully.
  • Reach out for help.
  • Report the bully to the right authority.

This factsheet from the Australian Human Rights Commission can help parents and others in the support group to help people deal with cyberbullying.

Predators

Online predators may solicit children to engage in indecent activities or even lure them into traps. Children may engage in conversations with strangers over the web through private messages and chat rooms. The threats these predators pose is high, since they may lure, blackmail, abuse or kidnap their targets in the real world.

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What steps can parents take to improve the safety of their children?

It is the responsibility of parents to talk to their children about what kind of content they are allowed to access. Communicate the responsibilities and expectations of your children when they are using the Internet. Openly discuss the type of content they are allowed to access and what type of content they are prohibited from viewing.

Monitor your children’s online activities.

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Parents need to be vigilant and monitor websites, video games, social media, apps and website content that they are being exposed to. Monitoring everything is challenging. The better surveillance you give your child, the more protected your children will be from digital threats. There are several ways you can achieve this.

  • Designate times when your children can access the internet.
  • Teach them privacy.
  • Advise them not to speak to any strangers on the web.
  • Advise them only visit websites that you permit them.
  • Advise them not to share any sensitive details about themselves.
  • If they feel concerned about anything, they should speak to an adult.

What are some methods parents can use protect their children from digital dangers.

It is important that parents maintain censorship control to protect their children from being exposed to indecent content or interacting with the wrong kind of people online. Parents can make ISPs, search engine filters and web browsers their ally in order to provide a ‘kid friendly zone’ when children are on the Internet. Some solutions include:

  • Cyberpatrol 6.2 – A web tool that can help monitor and manage online activity.
  • Kidsnet – whitelists sites that children are allowed to visit.

Child safety is more important than ever since access to inappropriate content is only a click away.  Parents need to be vigilant when it comes to the content that their children are viewing on the web. Take action to minimise your children’s exposure to inappropriate content and make them aware of your expectations on how they should use the Internet.