Discussing Online Dangers With Your Children
UPDATED: March 30, 2020
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Technology’s everywhere—it’s a fact of life. And it’s changing everything, even the legal profession. It makes having access to almost everything in your life is extremely convenient. But as efficient as it is, there are certain risks that cannot be ignored, especially for children.
When you were a child, your main goal of the day was to have fun. Maybe you built a fort, watched cartoons, or collected baseball cards.
Of course, if there was anything that your parents deemed dangerous, they would take steps to protect you. They’d set rules like curfews, cut your phone time, or not let you go out with that boy you liked.
Now, as a parent raising a child in the 21st century, you may be wondering how to protect your children from the dangers of today. Unfortunately, many of these dangers aren’t physically present, and they lurk in an often unseen, online presence.
Here are some of the online dangers your child may be presented with, and how you can help them stay alert.
What are some possible online dangers?
When it comes to talking about online dangers, the possibilities are endless. There are a lot of people ready to take advantage of internet users, including your kids. Whether you enjoy looking up lawn care memes, shopping online, or even learning how to represent yourself in court, online dangers are lurking everywhere.
Truly, anyone Is susceptible to becoming a victim online—especially children.
Some of the more common online dangers include, but aren’t limited to:
There are countless scams on the internet. If you used Google to search for past online scams, you’d find a multitude of them. But did you know that some of the safe sites your kids use may be the ones promoting the biggest scams?
Here’s the deal, there have been many cases of YouTubers that market themselves for kids and promote things like online gambling to them. Some kid-friendly sites also constantly market their merchandise to children under the guise of it being cool or hip to spend tons of money on a shirt that will be forgotten about in a week.
Online Stranger Danger
With the many forms of content your child may be consuming, there is always the danger of online strangers. Don’t get me wrong—not every single person your child may encounter online is necessarily a danger.
But, there’s always a risk of your child being targeted by a stranger online or even bullied. There are also countless cases of sexual harassment on online forums or other places people can communicate online.
The internet is an easy place to trick when it comes to fibbing about your age. When I was younger, there were tons of children under 18 who had social media pages. Of course, they weren’t supposed to do this according to site rules.
Children have easy access to content that is meant for adults only. A stray ad that contains racy content on a sketchy internet site can be easy to come across. It only takes a second for your child to be exposed to sensitive information meant for adults only.
So what can you do about all these potential threats?
Broach the Subject of Online Dangers
As much as you want to protect your children 24/7, it’s simply not possible. This is why your children have to be educated about possible online dangers. You don’t want to wait until after they’ve been scammed online or exposed to things they shouldn’t see.
But how do you broach the subject of online dangers? What should you tell them?
Set some simple rules such as:
- Don’t give your name or personal information to anyone you don’t know
- Be careful where you post pictures and what pictures you post
- Always ask your parents before making a purchase
If you instill in your children a sense of caution about the internet, they are less likely to be the victims of internet risks.
Some children learn better by doing fun activities rather than being told things they should know. With a little creativity, you could always make a game out of learning about online dangers.
Remember, when you bring up the subject of online dangers, you don’t want to make your children fear the internet. Your children most likely use the internet every day in school and at home. So you don’t want your children to fear what they use all the time.
What Other Steps Can You Take?
Other than discussing online dangers with your children, what are some ways to prevent your child from being a victim?
Teach Them While They're Young
A great way to protect your children online is to be diligent when they’re younger. When your child is younger, knowing what they’re looking at online is imperative. As they grow older and more responsible, trusting that you’ve instilled in them a good sense of online dangers is important. Start teaching them young so your children know how to navigate the internet safely.
You should always try to stay up-to-date on possible online dangers. When your children grow too old to be monitored constantly, encouraging them to stay educated on modern-day online dangers is important. Scammers and ill-intending individuals never stop evolving. So remaining up to date on the latest scams is imperative.
Don’t Be Overprotective
Be aware not to be overprotective. There’s a difference between monitoring what your child is looking at online, and being nosy. If you read their messages and check their phones constantly, you can lose their trust.
With the internet, there are many ways children can hide what they are up to. Being too nosy may only make them better at hiding what they do. Make sure your child doesn’t feel the need to hide because you’re snooping.
Being Safe Online: The Wrap On Online Dangers
When it comes to keeping your children safe online, there are many steps you can take. Unfortunately, online dangers are always present and people will continue to come up with crafty ways to make victims out of you.
The good news is if you stay educated about what’s out there, you can keep your children educated no matter what age. And when they know how to spot danger, they’re safer from it.
Whitney VanNostrand is an advocate for a safer internet for children, and a writer for HealingLaw.com