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Our children are at risk greater than ever before since the advent of the internet. Not only can they be lured down inappropriate rabbit holes while surfing the web but also be the victims of cyber-bullying through the ever so popular social media.

 

It is imperative these days to be mindful of the dangers that lurk on the internet and this can be done without being a “helicopter parent”.

 

The reality of it is, our kids sometimes know more about the internet and computing than we do. For this reason, we must take care and responsibility to ensure their safety while online.

 

Social media can be a great place to interact with friends and family however it is a double edged sword. Social media can also be a detriment to a child’s mental and social health. Some children feel that the more “friends” they have, the more popular they are, even if they really do not know the person. If you child’s social media profiles are “public” that means the whole world can see it and request to be friends, this includes predators. Their online presence and history will always be there so think about their future as well.

 

Kids will try to be sneaky and have more than one social media profile. The one they want you to see and another that they are hiding. Sometimes it is difficult to know if this is happening or not. Here are a few tips to help combat that situation:

 

  • Be involved - ask them to show you how it all works
  • Keep computer in open / high traffic area
  • Set rules and warn about dangers - predators, cat-fishing etc...
  • Monitor activity - can be done with tracking software (computers, tablets and phones)
  • Keep lines of communication open
  • Create different account - Windows and Apple both have parental control options
  • Pictures online…. Once there are there they will never go away
  • Check the login text boxes of social media accounts - if there is another account it might show in a drop down selection
  • Be aware of online child sexual exploitation with self - generating material
  • Be aware of Sextortion - online sexual coercion and extortion is on that is on the rise

 

Other things to consider:

 

  • At home, setup your WiFi routers guest account as your kids account. If you web search “how to setup parental controls on my router”, you will find several resources on how this can be done. You can also call your ISP (Internet Service Provider) for instructions, in some cases they can remote into your router and do this for you free of charge.
  • Never let children use USB drives that they got from someone else. USB drives that have malicious software on them are called “rubber duckys”. This USB drive looks normal however, when plugged in, the computer thinks it is a keyboard and automates keystrokes faster than 1000 a minute injecting the “Ducky” code into your computer.
  • Never allow children to gain access to your passwords or accounts. Again, it is a good idea to setup their own accounts with parental controls in place.
  • Children should be encouraged to notify parents, teachers, responsible adults and/or local authorities of anything seen as a threat to others or to oneself online.
  • If your or your child's accounts has been compromised, notify social media, email or (ISP) internet service provider as well as your friends and family ASAP.