The internet can be a scary place even for adults, you can imagine how it would be for children. It is a pretty new discovery and understanding safe ways to navigate through the internet can be confusing.
Internet being a pretty popular space that amasses so many users, scammers find it the perfect breeding ground to conduct their elaborate schemes, and guess what children are the perfect victims for their traps!
Children and the Internet: Risks and Dangers
Children may not have the ability to discern what is safe and what is not, especially on the internet so it is important that adults around them are educated on internet dangers and how they might be targeted towards children.
Different dangers of the internet
So here are 15 dangers that might be targeted toward children.
What Is Cyberbullying?
Bullying that occurs over digital devices such as cell phones, laptops, and tablets is known as cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can take place offline in social media, forums, or gaming where people can watch, participate in, or share content, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content.
Cyberbulling is one of the most common dangers of the internet. Sending, uploading, or spreading unpleasant, harmful, misleading, or nasty content about someone else is considered cyberbullying. It can involve embarrassment or humiliation caused by sharing intimate or private information about another individual. Cyberbullying can sometimes cross the line into illegal or criminal action.
The following are the most prevalent places where cyberbullying occurs:
Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Tik Tok are examples of social media platforms.
What Are the Consequences of Cyberbullying?
Children have virtually continual access to their electronics, cyberbullying is difficult to avoid. Children and teenagers may feel as if they never get a break and are acutely aware of the consequences.
Cyberbullying that is severe, long-lasting, or occurs frequently can cause victims to experience anxiety, depression, and other stress-related problems. Some children have attempted or died by suicide in rare instances.
Cyberbullies may also face suspension or expulsion from school, as well as expulsion from sports teams. Children may face legal consequences depending on the severity of the cyberbullying.
You might have heard of the word phishing with regards to online scams.
What is Phishing?
Phishing is a type of cybercrime in which a person posing as a genuine organization contacts a target or targets via email, phone, or text message to persuade them to provide sensitive data such as personally identifying information, banking, and credit card information, and passwords.
The data is then utilised to get access to sensitive accounts, which can lead to identity theft and financial loss.
Despite the fact that phishing emails might appear at any time, cybercriminals who create them keep an eye on sites that are more popular with children. When a child clicks on one of these links, they will collect information such as email addresses and the names of their friends to use in their frauds. The account of the child will be easily accessible and hacked.
#3 Identity theft
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is the theft of another person’s personal or financial information in order to commit fraud, such as making unlawful transactions or purchases, using that person’s identity. Identity theft can take numerous forms, with the most common consequences being damage to a victim’s credit, wealth, and reputation.
Children are also vulnerable to identity theft. When someone uses a child’s identifying information and Social Security number to perpetrate fraud, this is known as child identity theft.
Theft of a child’s identity may not be discovered for years.
The identity of a youngster is particularly appealing to thieves.
What is it about a child’s identity that is so appealing?
It’s probably because their Social Security number and credit history are a blank slate that will go untouched—and perhaps unchecked—for a long time. This gives thieves plenty of time to open new credit cards, get driver’s licences, find work, and even buy houses and cars.
It’s also a reasonably simple crime to conduct; a thief could combine any name and date of birth with a stolen Social Security number to create a new identity.
Because young children are less likely to use credit or take precautions to protect their identities, child identity theft may last longer than other types of identity theft.
Malware (short for “malicious software”) is a file or code that infects, examines, steals, or performs nearly any function an attacker desires. Malware is often supplied over a network. And, because malware comes in so many different forms, there are a variety of ways to infect computers.
Computer viruses, worms, Trojan horses, ransomware, spyware, adware, rogue software, wiper, and scareware are all examples of malware. Malware protection tactics vary depending on the type of malware; however the majority may be protected by installing antivirus software.
How to know if your computer is infected by malware?
- Your computer slows down
- Your system crashes
- You lose access to your files
Most common forms of malware:
Adware: is unwanted software that displays advertising on your screen, usually through a web browser. It usually disguises itself as a legitimate programme or piggybacks on another programme to deceive you into installing it on your computer, tablet, or mobile device.
Virus: A computer virus is a sort of malicious software (also known as malware) that travels from computer to computer, causing data and software harm.
Computer viruses are designed to cause system disruption, serious operational challenges, and data loss and leaking. The fact that computer viruses are designed to spread across programmes and systems is crucial to understand. When a computer virus attaches to an executable host file, its viral code is executed when the file is opened. The code then spreads over networks, discs, file-sharing programmes, and infected email attachments from the document or software to which it is attached.
Trojan: often known as a Trojan horse, is one of the most destructive types of malware. It frequently poses as something helpful in order to deceive you. The perpetrators behind the Trojan obtain illegal access to the affected computer once it has been installed on your system. Trojans can then be used to steal financial information or install other software, most commonly ransomware.
#5 Cyber Predators
Sexual and other predators frequently stalk youngsters on the internet these days, preying on their naivety, lack of adult supervision, and trust. This can lead to children being drawn into potentially deadly real-life encounters. These predators lurk on kid-friendly social media and gaming platforms—the same virtual spaces where anonymity encourages cyberbullying.
They can take advantage of children’s naivety as well as their gift of creativity. “Let’s play pretend” is a frequent and good component of online gaming and engagement, but predators might exploit it to entice children to join them.
#6 Gaming and the hidden costs
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Some games require payment to download, and others need players to purchase credits or stuff in order to continue playing. Many free games are meant to entice players to keep playing, but they require payments to do so, which may be very frustrating. To avoid costs piling up, we recommend not keeping credit card information on devices or in apps.
Purchases made while playing the game can amount to a lot of money being charged to your credit cards.
Some games demand payment to download, while others require players to buy credits or items to continue playing. Many free games are designed to lure users to keep playing, but they do it by requiring payments, which may be extremely unpleasant. We recommend not storing credit card information on devices or in apps to minimise unnecessary charges.
#7 Online gambling
Gambling has always been a part of life, whether it’s through lottery tickets, sports betting, or the ubiquitous casinos. Teens are increasingly engaging in online gambling through games like online poker, thanks to easy access to the internet. They desire immediate pleasure, and the promise of quick and easy money is enticing.
The disadvantages, on the other hand, are equally significant. Children who begin to engage in online gambling run the danger of developing an addiction, losing their self-esteem (particularly when they begin to lose money), financial distress, and even despair. Some websites may even request bank account information, putting children at risk of financial fraud.
Parents should talk to their children, particularly teenagers, about the risks of internet gambling. One good idea is to keep the computer password-protected.
Examples of Online Gambling:
- Card games
- lottery tickets
- video games
- sports bets
Talking about gambling can all help to prevent teen gambling problems.
Changes in money, sleep patterns, mood, school grades, and social activities are all warning indications of teen gambling addictions.
In ‘practise mode,’ online gambling is frequently constructed so that gamblers win a lot of money. Teenagers may feel that if they play for real money, their winning run would continue. The majority of problem gamblers had a large ‘win’ early in their gaming history.
#8 Inappropriate Content
Definition of inappropriate content: any stuff that is distressing, improper, or simply wrong for children; anything that is not appropriate for a youngster to view, such as:
- Explicit sexual content: pornography for children and adults, as well as semi-nude and/or nudity
- Violent or torturous images
- Groups that promote hatred
- Illegal advertising and illegal conduct
- Terrorist organisations, bomb-making sites, and gang connections are examples of extremist websites.
- Hazardous-behavior-inducing websites
- Profanity and/or derogatory words
Pornography exposure at a young age has been linked to poor mental health, sexism and objectification, sexual assault, and other harmful consequences. When children see pornography that depicts abusive and misogynistic activities, they may learn to believe that such behavior is normal and acceptable, among other things.
2. Graphic Violence
Experiments have revealed that persons who are exposed to media violence become more hostile immediately afterward. In natural settings with actual measurements of hostility, field trials have yielded similar results. The effects can also endure a long time.
Numerous longitudinal studies have found that early exposure to violent media predicts aggressive and violent behavior as an adult many years later. Despite the fact that no scientific area ever achieves perfect consensus, the data is so compelling that dozens of important scientific and medical organizations have released declarations concerning the dangers of violent media exposure.
3. Verbal Obscenities
The study also shows that swearing is not only a result of an individual’s speech habit but also a socially contagious behavior. We conclude, based on our findings, that an aggressive emotional state can be transmitted through textual mimicry.
#9 Online Scams
Children are unlikely to fall for scams that promise them a million dollars from Nigerian princes, but they may fall for schemes that promise them items they value, such as free access to online games or special features. They have not yet learnt to be careful, young individuals are easy targets for scammers.
Cyber thieves can utilise sites popular with youngsters to discover potential victims, then dangle incentives in exchange for what they want—such their parents’ credit card information—much like they can with phishing.
Young or old, the best defence against scammers is to understand that if an offer seems too good to be true, it most often is. Teach your kids to be wary of online offers that seem too good to be true.
#10 Posting private information
What should you not post on social media or any online platform:
- Distribution of private photos
- Dissemination of private information over social networking sites (such as Facebook or MySpace)
- Accessibility of an individual’s private journal entries
- Unwarranted access to an individual’s web or online conversation history
- Unwarranted access to an individual’s online accounts (email, school resources, etc.)
#11 Damaged Reputations
There is no “Delete” key on the internet. It’s the polar opposite of Vegas. Things that happen on the internet stay on the internet. Forever. It’s practically hard to take back anything your youngster posts online. The threats posed by social media are particularly frightening. It’s difficult for youngsters, in particular, to imagine how a party photo or Snapchat message can cause problems ten years down the line when they’re interviewing for a new job, or how a potential mate might react to personal stuff posted to their social media pages or other websites.
Explain to your teenagers that their tastes and perspectives will inevitably evolve as they get older. Their 15-year-old self can drastically alter their adult life because there are no “Take-Back” or “Delete” buttons.
These days, camera phones, digital cameras, and web cams are all around, and children might be victims of their own lack of expertise with new technologies. Many people upload photos, videos, or messages on the internet that they later regret. Consider what you’re about to post before you do so, since once you do, it’ll be up there in perpetuity.
With the advent of online social networking and profiles, a child’s online reputation is becoming a major worry. There have been reports of institutions and employers turning down young people for high school programmes, internships, college admissions, and jobs after looking at their online profiles.
According to Shehan, many teenage girls post suggestive images of themselves on social media. Why? Handy, who is still a teenager, thinks it’s a game of one-upmanship. “Kids are attempting to appear cool. They’re doing it because it’s what everyone else is doing.
#12 Online Abuse
In fact, sharing (or threatening to share) someone’s personal pics or vids without their consent is called ‘image-based abuse’. It’s a really serious issue.
What is the definition of online abuse?
Any sort of abuse that occurs through the internet is referred to as online abuse. It can happen on any web-connected device, including computers, tablets, and mobile phones. It can occur anywhere on the internet, including:
- social networking sites
- Messaging apps and text messages
- internet conversations
- gaming on the internet
- live-streaming websites are a type of live-streaming service.
Children are vulnerable to online abuse from both friends and strangers. It could be a part of other forms of abuse that occur offline, such as bullying or grooming. It’s also possible that the abuse is limited to the internet.
Children may be exposed to hate speech and violent content while surfing the internet, including messages encouraging self-harm and even death.
Child exploitation is a type of abuse that occurs when children are exploited. Anyone under the age of 18 is persuaded, coerced, or forced into sexual or criminal action in return for money, drugs/alcohol, presents, affection, or status, among other things. Even if a youngster believes they are actively engaged in sexual contact with the person who is exploiting them, consent is meaningless.
Child exploitation does not always have to take place in person; it can also happen online.
#13 Overuse / Addiction
With technology a prominent part of life now, different types of internet addiction is a dominant part of many young life. But why is it so?
Here are some of the reasons why children become addicted to the Internet:
Constant desire to discover new games
Obsessive need to download different programmes
The pressing need to stay in touch with pals via digital communication apps
a desire to explore the fascinating world of the Internet on their own
Impersonating adults who are constantly on the phone
Selfie obsession (taking and sharing selfies) Parents, on the other hand, are responsible for limiting the amount of time their children spend online each day. You must ensure that your child has time for other important tasks such as healthy food, reading, schoolwork, writing, physical activity, extracurricular activities, and so on.
If not, here are some of the harmful consequences of too much screen time for your kids:
Increased risk of becoming obese, possibly morbidly obese, if the issue persists for a long time. Screen time does not include any physical activity, and it is frequently accompanied with the consumption of high-calorie snacks. Furthermore, children dislike taking time away from their electronic devices to eat healthful meals. Furthermore, many parents do not make them.
#14 Interaction with Strangers
Most parents are most concerned about their children coming into contact with cyber predators. These predators and cybercriminals want to harm others, exploit children, and steal their personal information. Many of the criminals apprehended claim that they target children because they believe it is simpler to deceive them, and they know where to look for children.
Knowing where predators troll, what they’re looking for, and the strategies they use to entice children to join them online will help you keep a watch on your children when they’re online.
Strangers are most likely to troll in these places on the internet.
It’s all about acquiring information on victims and starting contact in the most natural way possible for internet predators.
Sites on social media
Internet Stranger Danger Prevention Tips
1. Avoid disclosing personal information. No one should give out their name, age, residence, school name, phone number, or images of themselves online, in chat rooms, via email, by instant message, or in online clubs, especially if they are a juvenile.
2. Don’t engage in conversation with strangers. This age-old piece of advice is especially relevant in the online world. In virtually all cases, tell your children to avoid befriending strangers on the internet. If they don’t know the person, they should “unfriend” them on Facebook, and they should not be allowed to follow or be followed on Instagram.
3. Never meet up in person with an online “friend.” Children should be reminded that they should never meet in person with someone they met on the internet unless accompanied by a parent.
#15 Dangers of social media- misinformation
The widespread availability of user-generated content in online social media makes it easier to bring individuals together around shared interests, worldviews, and storylines.
The World Wide Web, on the other hand, offers a fertile ground for the widespread dissemination of unconfirmed tales. We show that material connected to dissimilar narratives––conspiracy theories and scientific news––generate homogeneous and polarised communities (i.e., echo chambers) with comparable information consumption habits in this paper, which is based on a vast quantitative analysis of Facebook.
Then, we develop a data-driven rumor-spreading percolation model that indicates that homogeneity and polarisation are the most important factors in forecasting the size of cascades.
Online misinformation and disinformation (mis/disinformation) is a major public concern.
The quick spread of misinformation and deception online has an impact on everyone, both online and offline. Misinformation and deception are very much a part of children’s lives as active digital users. On social media, misinformation travels farther, quicker, and deeper than accurate information.
Conclusion: These dangers of the internet are not something that can be taken lightly but luckily you can take easy steps to protect your children against it.