By Doctor Security
A few years back, keeping children safe online from strangers and pedophiles practically became an industry. Numerous websites with safety tips were launched, security software to insulate kids were developed, pamphlets and eBooks were written on the topic, and TV shows were produced (“To Catch a Predator”). Most of it was with the good intention of educating people about online dangers.
It turns out that all of this attention on online predators targeting tots may have been equivalent to the monster under the bed in comparison to other threats. Yes, there are creeps online that did and do try to trick children into doing bad things in cyberspace but according to recent statistics these types of attacks are extremely rare. Based on studies, kids online are more likely to be victimized online (cyberbullying and harassment) by a familiar young person rather than an adult stranger.
“Many of the threats that youth experience online are perpetrated by their peers, including
sexual solicitation (Wolak et al. 2006) and online harassment (Hinduja and Patchin 2009;
McQuade and Sampat 2008; Smith et al. 2008).” - Page 11, Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies – a report from the Internet Safety Technical Task Force http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/pubrelease/isttf/
Cyberbullying and harassment are the biggest problems kids face online. So the real “danger” is much more familiar and much less frightening if parents are paying close attention and acting accordingly. When it comes to protecting children online, parents and guardians need to be focused on monitoring their youth’s classmates, neighbors, and friends. They also need to monitor their own child’s behavior to make sure they aren’t inviting trouble.
Parents should check out this ConnectSafely.org webpage for more ideas about how to encourage your children to be a good “Internet citizens” and avoid online trouble:
Here are a few tips for keeping your children safe online:
1. Be sure that you have security software that has “parent controls” such as ZoneAlarm security products.
2. Limit the amount of time your child spends online.
3. Block inappropriate websites and monitor what your child does online.
4. Remind your kids often about the pitfalls of revealing too much information, posting inappropriate photos of themselves or friends, and saying or doing mean things online.
5. Ensure that they have strong passwords and not share them with friends to avoid “impersonation problems” or identity theft issues.