How To Protect Children From Online Threats

How To Protect Children From Online Threats

The internet has become a fundamental part of our lives for quite some time now. With the positive results of easy access to interactive learning through digitization comes the risks like cyber threats and cyberbullying.

According to 219 data on cyberbullying through Canadian Health Survey on Children and Youth, 8.7% of youth aged 12 to 17 reported that someone had posted hurtful information about them on the internet sometime over the past year, often more than once. 15.9% reported that someone had threatened or insulted them through email, instant messaging, text messaging or an online game. 12.9% reported that someone had purposefully excluded them from an online community.

What is Cyberbullying?

Bullying has been a part of our society for a very long time, but the internet has given it an entirely new form.

Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over electronic devices like cell phones, computers, tablets and security cameras. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content. Cyberbullying includes sending, posting, or sharing negative, harmful, false, or mean content about someone else. It can include sharing personal or private information about someone else, causing embarrassment or humiliation. Some cyberbullying crosses the line into unlawful or criminal behaviour.

Cyberbullies will use any form of medium to succeed in their hurtful comments and actions.

These ways can include but are not limited to rumour spreading, leaking personal information, or even impersonation. When it comes to cyberbullying, it can be done blatantly or stealthily. Without face-to-face exchange, many bullies tend to act more boldly online than in the schoolyard.

What Can You Do as Parents to Protect Your Children From Cyberbullying?

Be Involved

Consider activities you can work on together, whether playing a game or researching a topic you had been talking about, e.g., family vacation spots, a particular hobby, or an influential figure.  This will allow you to supervise your child’s online activities while teaching them good computer habits.

Set Rules And Educate Them On Why These Rules Are In Place

Make sure your child knows the boundaries of what they are allowed to do on the computer. These boundaries should be appropriate for the child’s age, knowledge, and maturity, but they may include rules about how long they are allowed to be on the computer, what sites they are allowed to visit, what software programs they can use, and what tasks or activities they are allowed to do.

These days, children are more rational than we think, so explain why these rules are in place. If they don’t find a logic behind your boundaries, the chances of curiosity getting the best of their judgement will be higher. Consider discussing these boundaries with them instead of just enforcing the rules.

Keep Your Computer In An Open Area

Consider having your children’s computer area in the living room or kitchen. Not only does this accessibility deter children from doing something they know they’re not allowed to do, it also enables you to intervene if you notice a behaviour that could have negative consequences.

Talk About The Dangers Of The Internet

It would be best if you also talked to children about the dangers of the internet to recognize suspicious behaviour or activity. Discuss the risks of sharing certain types of information like they’re home alone, uploading sensitive information about themselves, etc. The goal isn’t to instill fear in them but to ensure they are aware of the possible consequences of their activities online.

Keep Lines Of Communication Open

Let your children know that they can approach you with any questions or concerns about behaviours or problems they may have encountered on the computer. This starts with how you react to them trying to share something that happened online, big or small – taking interest and discussing the matter calmly.

Create Separate User Accounts

Most operating systems/ apps allow you to create a different user account for each user. Suppose you’re worried that your child may accidentally access, modify, and/or delete your files. In that case, you can give them a separate account, decrease the amount of access and number of privileges they have and be careful about your security settings. Most devices these days come with parental controls.

Finally, as parents, educate yourself with tools, policies, and laws about cyberbullying in Canada. Visit this page to learn more.

Reference: Keeping Keeping Children Safe Online – CISA, February 10, 2020