Do you know that 90% of children aged eight and above are active on the internet, and 72% of children worldwide have experienced at least one type of cyber threat online? That’s what we’re talking about here – why it’s important to keep our kids safe and protect their privacy when playing and learning online.
So, buckle up as we explore why keeping our kids safe online is a big deal and what we can do to ensure their digital experiences are both exciting and secure!
Understanding online privacy
Online privacy refers to protecting personal information and the right to keep that information secure and confidential while using the internet. It is essential to protect privacy on the internet for kids because their personal information and data can be misused, such as inappropriate content, identity theft, and cyberbullying.
According to research, 66% of parents in the U.S. claimed that parenting is getting harder today than 20 years ago, blaming social media and smartphones.
Why online privacy is so important?
In this ever-evolving era of digital technology, online privacy and safety play a vital role. Even though kids are legally protected until the age of thirteen in the U.S., they should be protected for much longer. So here are some of the importance for child safety because it provides a layer of protection against many threats children face in the digital world.
Protecting against predators
Since 5.3 billion people are using the internet, out of them 4.3 billion people use social media. So, there may be online predators who exploit children by gathering personal information. Therefore, taking robust privacy measures can help prevent predators from gaining access to your details that could be used to harm or exploit a child.
According to a Pew Research study, around 40% have experienced some form of cyberbullying. Online privacy safeguards against cyberbullying, as controlling the information shared online limits opportunities for bullies to target children with hurtful messages and harassment.
Minimizing data breaches and identity theft
Children might sometimes share and inadvertently share sensitive personal information that could be used for identity theft. Parents can minimize the risk of identity theft and data breaches by securing online accounts and educating children about responsible online behavior.
Empowering children and building trust
Most children will likely turn to their parents for guidance and support when faced with online challenges. So respecting and safeguarding a child’s privacy in online accounts builds trust between parents and children.
As parents, you cannot neglect your responsibility to educate children about the hazards of the Internet. As in real life, education is the best protection that can be offered to children. Give them the freedom to make their own online decisions and the understanding that there are risks involved. Also, let them know you’re always there to help in emergencies.
What are the potential risks, and how to recognize them?
There are many potential privacy risks online which can be difficult to recognize. Using the internet can be a great source for getting information, entertainment, and connection. But it also comes with some potential risks. Hence, here are some of the high risks that are commonly faced by people.
Phishing is when someone tries to get your sensitive information such as credit card details, username passwords, and so on. Phishers use many techniques to trick you such as spoofing, urgency, limited time offers or luring you with FOMO, and so on. Many times, you might get an email or a text message that looks like it comes from a legitimate source, such as a bank, or any company. But it isn’t from original sources. There are many types of phishing that phishers use such as email phishing, Smishing, Vishing, Whaling, and Spear phishing.
For instance, a hacker might send you emails that appear to be from your bank, trying to get access to your accounts by verifying it, by clicking on that link, it leads to fake websites that steal your identity or credentials and commit financial fraud.
To avoid being phished, you should
- be skeptical and verify sources,
- use multifactor authentications (MFA),
- keep your software updated, and
- educate yourself.
Catfishing is an illegal practice where an individual creates fake IDs, and pretends to be someone else online. The most common reasons for catfishing are cyberbullying, revenge, sexual exploration, financial gain or boredom, loneliness, and insecurity.
You can spot catfishers in various ways due to their inconsistent stories, fewer online interactions, dodging calls, etc.
To avoid being catfished, you should
- verify their identity,
- limit personal information on online platforms,
- research and cross-check,
- report suspicious activity, and
- never send money to strangers.
Clickbating is designed to attract the attention of users and urge them to click on content. It involves thumbnails, links, and headlines. Clickbait is often used to increase their website’s traffic and increase revenue through it. The more you click on the link the more they make money. Even if the content is misleading.
Users can often be involved in clickbait due to curiosity, FOMO, social media buzz, and exaggerated claims. it can lead you to unsafe websites or download files that can infect your devices with malware and viruses.
This activity is mostly done, in terms of increasing an audience but in the long run period it is not effective because users can be frustrated by misleading information and lose trust in the sources.
To avoid becoming a victim of clickbait, you should
- evaluate headlines and thumbnails,
- check the sources, and
- use reliable platforms.
Also, here are a few steps to avoid a risk.
- Analyze what information you are asked to provide.
- Consider the context, such as the purpose of the data being collected.
- Look for red flags in user settings and controls
- Trust your gut instinct
The impacts of cybersecurity and virtual privacy on children
Ultimately, making sure of children’s safety and well-being online requires cooperation from parents, educators, policymakers, and tech companies. By understanding the potential impacts of online accounts and taking necessary precautions. You can help children to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly. Here’s a breakdown of some key reasons:
Educating and providing access to information
Children can foster their learning and exploration with access to data and information and a wide range of educational resources. It helps to enhance connectivity and have a birds-eye perspective. Hence, schools and educational institutions must implement robust security measures to ensure the safety of students.
Violations of privacy and data collection
In most of the cases, online apps tend to collect and store a vast amount of personal data. Parents should raise a concern about their privacy breaches. It can also lead to potential misuse of this information or manipulation of their preferences and behavior.
Cyberbullying and harassment
Many children are victimized by inappropriate or harmful content online, such as pornography, violence, or hate speech which harms their mental health and well-being. As well as their personal information can also be used for identity theft and blackmailing.
Addiction and excessive screen time
By interfacing with online interaction, children develop skills, learn to navigate relationships, and build self-confidence. The excessive use of online accounts can lead to addiction, impacting sleep, less physical activity, and social interactions or isolation, resulting in depression and other fatigue.
Protecting children’s right to privacy
Since the online landscape offers uncertain opportunities for learning, entertainment, and social interactions, it also presents a significant risk to children’s privacy. So, a strong legal framework, such as data privacy laws needed to be adapted to specifically protect children’s rights, limiting data collection and granting them control over their information.
Many tech companies and social media platforms must be held accountable for protecting children’s data by creating a safer online environment. So understanding cybersecurity and privacy from an early age is essential, which helps you to understand risks and learn how to protect yourself and be responsible for online behavior, digital literacy, and recognizing online threats.
Here is an example of an innovative technology that can protect your privacy and security.
Use of VoIP phone numbers
VoIP technology allows you to make and receive calls using the internet. The use of Virtual phone numbers for signing up for different online accounts introduces a layer of privacy and security.
Due to its enhanced anonymity, it helps to reduce the chance of a personal phone number being exposed online. Online accounts can be created easily without directly requesting children’s phone numbers, which minimizes the likelihood of unwanted contact. Lastly, due to its advanced features and ability to integrate with other apps, you can easily sign up with a Gmail account by using a VoIP number at a low cost.
Even though explaining all about online privacy may seem difficult to a child and protect their identity online, here are a few resources you can check out:
- Federal Trade Commission, Protecting Kids Online
- U.S. Department of Justice, Keeping Children Safe Online
- GCF Global, Internet Safety for Kids: Teaching Kids About Internet Safety
- Consumer Reports, Internet Safety for Kids: Protect Your Child
In conclusion, ensuring children’s safety and privacy in online accounts is not just a technical challenge but a moral necessity. Children are more exposed to various risks and opportunities in this digital world. Hence, maintaining a healthy relationship with parents, educators, policymakers, and tech companies must work together responsibly.
Why is online privacy checking important?
Checking online privacy from time to time is essential to protect you from identity theft, prevent cyberbullying and harassment, avoid online scams and preservations of reputations, and control personal data.
Is there anything parents can do to help their children be more safe online?
Yes, there are many ways to keep your kids safe. First, you should stay updated and teach your kids how important it is to be safe online, which can benefit you in many ways. It helps protect yourself from online predators, avoid inappropriate content, build trust with parents, and develop critical thinking skills.
It is possible to keep kids safe on the internet?
Yes, it is possible to keep kids safe online by following ways.
- Teaching responsible online behavior
- Setting time limits
- Teaching digital literacy
- Privacy settings and control
- Promoting open communications