Tips to keep your children safe from digital predators
This week marks Child Protection Week, as Youth Month kicks off, we are reminded to pay close attention to the well-being and safety of our young people and children, putting plans in place to ensure they are protected year-round. We have all had to adjust to life under lockdown and this has resulted in many families spending a lot of time online. People are relying on home connectivity to do everything, from working, shopping, gaming, streaming, and so on. For kids specifically, internet usage involves school, homework, streaming and socializing. It is a fact that vigilance is a way of life in South Africa, but while protecting our loved ones and assets from physical crime, we often forget to consider the threats in the virtual world.
STS’ Smart Technology partner, Vox Telecoms, had the honour of speaking to Carte Blanche about digital predators and how they target children online internet connectivity can be wonderful for kids. But online access also comes with its unique perils, like stumbling across illicit material, whether sexual or otherwise inappropriate, cyberbullying, and falling prey to online predators. There is an unfortunate sharp rise in the number of sexual abuse content of children viewed and uploaded online since the instigation of Lockdown rules to restrict movement. Using apps and websites where kids engage, predators sometimes pose as a child or teen looking to make a new friend. They might prod the child to exchange personal information, such as address and phone number, and even images of themselves.
Richard Frost, Vox Head of Product: Network and Endpoint Security, shared some vital security tips that can assist parents to manage their children’s internet usage and privacy. We thought it best to provide you with some tips of our own.
- Supervise their internet access – Know who your children are talking to. Parents should be aware of what their kids see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves.
- Educate your children – Parents should sit down with their kids from the outset and layout the restrictions and terms of internet use, ensuring that they know the pitfalls and dangers that the internet can cause.
- Use parental control tools from trusted vendors – Children are often more technically literate than their parents, but fortunately, companies like Vox have created tools to help you protect your children, prohibiting access to harmful sites and keep an eye on their activities. These tools ensure that even technologically disadvantaged parents can administer a certain level of control over what children can and cannot view.
- Move the computer/laptop or tablet/smartphone to a common area where you can watch and monitor its use, not in individual bedrooms. As children grow, they will need a little more privacy, for the moment, spend time online together while they are young to teach them apt online behaviour.
- Avoid Sharenting (sharing and oversharing of photographs and information of our children online) – Predators sometimes get the information they need to convince your child to trust them from you as a parent. There are multiple stories of children being kidnapped from schools after that ‘bundle of joy’s first-day post). Parents should refrain from including identifying information (such as a school uniform), nicknames, favourite activities and frequently visited areas.
The internet and social websites have become integral parts of our daily lives, but they also have the potential to pose a threat. Children are especially susceptible to the threats that the Internet and social networking sites present. By teaching children about Internet safety, being aware of their online habits and guiding them to suitable websites, parents can make sure that their children become safe and responsible users of social networking websites.