The internet is a web of opportunity and intrigue. It has massively shaped modern culture and put information at our fingertips. Many people now prefer it to TV, and it is a great way for families and friends to keep in touch. However, while the net does have many benefits, it can also be very dangerous especially for vulnerable and impressionable children. Here’s just a few to keep in mind if you are a parent.
1. Pornography and other sexual content
Gone are the days when pornography was reserved for the top shelves in newsagents or seedy shops with tinted windows in the dodgy parts of town. These days, porn suppliers send unsolicited emails to your inbox. You only have to click on the wrong thumbnail or some click bait, and you will be on a pornographic site. So it is no surprise that 83% of boys and 57% of girls have viewed group sex online before the age of 18. Social media hasn’t helped matters, and many teens now share nude or semi-naked photos of themselves online or via their mobile phones. Some are so explicit that they have warranted criminal charges. This type of content can be psychologically for children and even prompt them to mimic what they see. So, it is important to use blockers and filters to prevent access to this information on mobile devices.
2. Social networking sites
Social networking like Facebook and Instagram have risen dramatically in popularity, and for many children, they are now the norm. However, while they are a good way for friends to keep in touch, they can be very dangerous. Most expect you to be 13 to join, but many younger children do join too. Unfortunately, some teens use social networking sites to post pictures of themselves drinking or taking drugs, and this can influence the impressionable minds of their peers. Others spend far too long on these sites and give away personal information like their location, name, and address. This puts them at risk of hackers, identity theft and you at risk of fraud. Unscrupulous Internet criminals often use these sites to steal information and photos to create copycat accounts and extort money. Don’t let young children join these sites and make sure older children keep their account private and only add people they know to their network.
3. Child predators
Most parents warn their children about talking to strangers on the street, but some forget to warn them about strangers online. Predators have realized that they can use social media, gaming sites, and online chat rooms to befriend children. Many predators pose as youngsters and strike up friendships with vulnerable children in an attempt to groom them. Some even convince the children to meet them in person. This puts them in direct danger, so it is important to warn your kids and monitor their online activity whether they are using a phone, home computer or other mobile devices. It can be harder to do this with mobile devices, but fortunately, there are programs and apps you can download to help you keep an eye on your kids. Kidgy is one of the best as it allows you to track their phone calls, messages, emails and even location, through GPS.