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The internet is a wonderful thing. It has given everyone in the world instant access to an endless supply of knowledge and entertainment. But like most things in this world, it has a dark side.
Over time, the internet has proven useful for education, businesses, and has helped everyone become more productive. If there’s anything we don’t know, we can easily find information about it using our favourite search engines. We can now instantly communicate with our loved ones, friends or even potential business partners and clients, regardless of the distance between us. Some countries have drastically reduced the use of cash because of electronic or online banking. We can even shop online from our own homes! The list of things you can do is just endless!
The freedom and power brought by the internet to everyone meant that it was only a matter of time until it was used inappropriately. It has given rise to countless dangers. Just recently, a twisted online game called The Momo Challenge started sweeping through the internet. Hackers are using a terrifying sculpture of a woman-bird hybrid in order to threaten and scare people into harming themselves.
Want to do something to protect your loved ones? We’re here to help!
They say that knowledge is power, so let’s start with that. If we know more about what we’re up against, then we’ll be better equipped to handle and prevent situations involving these dangers. This is the reason why so many people are taking part in public awareness campaigns for various issues. Below is a list of some of the things you might encounter online.
There are numerous kinds of malware, but spyware is one of the most troublesome. It infiltrates your device and steals sensitive information, including your bank accounts and passwords. You can get malware by opening links or attachments from unknown or spoofed emails, by downloading files and applications from malicious sites, or from malicious online ads. Whenever your children download something, you should always check if they are doing so from a trusted source.
The regular type of bullying ends when a child leaves the school. Sometimes, teachers and parents can even intervene to put an end to certain bullying incidents. However, the same cannot be said when it comes to cyberbullying. Even when a child goes home, the bullying resumes as soon as they connect to the internet. Be sure to take steps to find out what your children are being exposed to on social media websites and chat apps.
Communication became easy thanks to the internet. This means scammers can easily contact you and your loved ones. Most of them offer attractive rewards in exchange for information. Children can easily be tricked into sharing sensitive information, like their parents’ IDs and credit card info. Make sure that your child understands that they shouldn’t share any information like this and that these kinds of people cannot be trusted.
- Sexual predators
Predators can approach and befriend your child through social media, chat services, or even by interacting with them through multiplayer video games. Talk to your children about being transparent when it comes to who they interact with online.
The internet gives everyone access to a wide variety of information, and explicit material is no exception. However, there are ways to block certain websites to decrease the chances of your children being exposed to things like these.
- The Momo Challenge
As mentioned above, scammers are threatening and scaring children into performing dangerous tasks like violent attacks, self-harm, and suicide. If your child has encountered the challenge before, make sure you reiterate that Momo isn’t real and that it cannot directly harm them.
What can we do to protect our children?
- Be there
We should make sure that we’re nearby whenever they’re using a computer or a smartphone. This can give us a greater understanding of what they are doing and what they’re being exposed to on the internet. This will also provide us with opportunities to discuss, support, and stop certain activities they might be involved in. Helping them do research for their homework online is also a good idea. Whenever you can’t be with them, be sure to check their browser history.
- Follow your child on social networks
Social media sites like Facebook give you updates on those you follow through your news feed. Following your child will mean that you’ll be able to see if they are being bullied by others through posts and comments.
- Thoroughly check if the videos they’re watching are safe
It’s easy to insert a short clip of Momo making threats into the middle of videos of cartoons like Peppa Pig. Even if some videos seem harmless, check its different segments in order to ensure that harmful content wasn’t added. Also, websites like YouTube have a feature known as autoplay, which is on by default. Once a video finishes playing, the websites will automatically play a similar video. But even if this feature is off, children can easily click on a different video. Remember to check every video they watch.
- Educate your children about the dangers of the web early and often
Warn them that they should never talk to strangers and that they shouldn’t give out any personal information. Tell them that they shouldn’t agree to face to face meetings. Let them know that they shouldn’t do any of these things, even if someone offers to give them something they want, like toys and ice cream.
- Watch for changes in your child’s behaviour
If your child suddenly behaves differently, that might be a sign that he or she is being cyber-bullied or being contacted by sexual predators or even things like Momo.
- Have an open relationship with them
This will help ensure that our children will talk to us about anything they encounter online.
- Change the settings of your search engine
Search engines like Google can be set to block sites with explicit material. However, keep in mind that savvy children might be able to find out how to revert these settings.
- Contact your internet service provider
Some ISPs offer free parental controls for users to make the web a safer place for your little ones.