Child Online Safety
Being born in a technology driven world, children are highly fond of gadgets and the Internet. It would not be wrong to say that kids are more active Internet users than adults. This keen interest in the Internet can expose children to some unwanted content that may lead to negative impact on the young minds. With a never ending availability of vulnerable content on the Internet, the threats to children’s online safety have increased.
Some of these threats related to child online safety are:
Pornography: Due to easy and free availability of content on the internet, it has become very convenient for kids to access anything. Pornography is one the major issues related to child online security in the present time. Kids can visit porn sites very frequently and this is primarily because of the non availability of parental filters on these sites.
Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying is a form of harassment that takes place using electronic technology, such as computers, mobile phones and tablets. Children are the most common target of cyberbullying apart from adults. Anyone can bully someone else by posting rumours about an individual, sending threatening mails, disclosing personal information of the person, making sexual remarks or posting embarrassing pictures. Communication tools like text messages, websites, social media, messages and chats are used to bully a person. Some of the symptoms of cyberbullying in children are:
- Lower self-esteem and enhanced emotional responses
- Increased suicidal thoughts, sadness and loneliness
- Appear scared, depressed, angry or frustrated
Stealth Sites: Cybercriminals creates stealth sites to fool the people by routing them to the wrong and affected sites. They do so with an intention to increase their site traffic and earn profits. Suppose a child wants to open an authorized government website but an online predator has developed his websites page on similar URL address with .com domain in place of .gov domain. In this case, child will be directed to another webpage that can be a porn site or any similar site.
Misdirected Searches: Parents must guide their children to protect them from online threats and about the security of system.Though parents may take precaution to safeguard their kids, there can be instances when child may be misdirected to malicious websites. Such sites often use the terms related to kids, such as exam, games, school and so on. The kid might be looking for a relevant topic but can be routed to other inappropriate websites.
Grooming: It is a practice of forming a relationship with a child and gain their faith by establishing an emotional connection with them. The attacker pretends to be a friend and collects personal information like interest, location and sexual experiences from the kid via social media sites, chat rooms and messaging. Groomers provided fake information about themselves by telling wrong gender and pose as a teenager to prepare the victim for child abuse.
Social Networking Sites: Use of social media sites is very common nowadays and almost everyone is online on one or the other website. Apart from interacting and connecting with friends, these sites can also be susceptible to cyberbullying. Hackers can steal the personal data from the accounts using unethical practices to harm the victim.
Unsolicited Emails: Getting spam mail is very common these days. These spam mails are unsolicited emails, which are send by the spammers every day in bulk. spams are intended to increase web traffic on their sites and promote pornography. Child unknowingly opens these seam mails with links of pornographic sites and becomes the victim.
Chat Rooms: Users with similar interest communicate with each other in chat rooms. Attackers approach kids in these chat rooms to collect personal information and send links of malicious and inappropriate websites to them.
Child Online Safety Guidelines
Internet surfing and online activities are always risky, majorly for kids. As children are not aware of such risks, it is the duty of adults to warn and guide kids about online safety. The appropriate antivirus software with parental controls enabled must be installed on the machines accessed by children. This will enable the parents to determine the type of sites that their children are visiting and control their communication with outsiders. Educating your child is important because as they say prevention is always better that cure.
How to Determine If Children are at Risk Online
Kids, who are facing online security issues are usually found to keep quiet and do not share their problems with others. Being children they are too scared of sharing their misery with anyone for the fear of been punished or being laughed at by others. They are unable to realize the seriousness of the situation considering their tender age.
To identify if children are facing any online risk, parents can look for the following symptoms.
- Children are usually busy on their systems.
- Children are not interested in anything and look stressed out.
- 3. The system of child contains porn content and browser search history shows access to pornography. On entry of parents in the room, they suddenly switch the active window on the computer.
How To Protect Children from Online Threats
It is very important to identify that your children are victims of online threats and help them overcome it.
Parents can use the following ways to protect kids against online threats:
- Make kids aware about the online threats by providing proper knowledge about the same.
- Keep a check on kids’ online activities on the computer.
- Make use of the Internet filtering software to restrict access to inappropriate sites and pornographic content.
- Monitor the social networking profile of kids regularly.
- Ask kids not to provide personal information to any stranger.
- Coordinate with the police if any stranger is in regular contact with them.
Encouraging Children to Report
Parents should encourage their kids to follow these suggestions in order to protect them from malicious users and online predators:
- If any inappropriate behavior is found online, always report it.
- Discuss with parents if someone tries to cyberbully them.
- Sometimes kids are not comfortable in discussing such issues with parents, so parents can talk with a close friend.
Reporting a Crime
Like a normal crime, Internet or online crime can also be reported to the nearest police station. A special team to handle cybercrime is also available with the authorities. Victims can also lodge a cybercrime report online using trusted government web sites.
What to do if a Child becomes a Victim of Online Abuse
Children must be guided to follow the following steps if they are facing any online threat or become a victim of any form of Internet abuse.
- Avoid any type of communication with the online predators.
- Do not visit the sites which are known to cyberbully kids.
- If any spam or unsolicited email is found, block the sender to avoid further mails.
- If required, delete the social networking accounts.
Child Friendly Internet Software: KidZui
Specially designed for kids, KidZui is a web browser with a Zooming user interface paradigm. It is free, safe and easy to use web browser, which provides filtered search results. It doesn’t use the open Internet, only the teachers and parents have the right to approve the database URLs that can he accessed by the kid.
There is no need to monitor the online activities while kids are using KidZui. Here, children can access various games, photos, videos and websites approved by parent as safe.
Some of the key features of KidZui are:
- Searches on KidZui are safe and are tailored as per the child’s needs and approval of parents.
- It has a spelling checker and suggestions feature in built.
- It come with a GUI that is easy to understand for kids.
- Kids have access to several games, videos, websites and photos, which are approved by guardians.
- No threats of online predators.
- Easy and secure sharing of data and communication with friends.
- Parents need not monitor kids while they are using it.
- Guardian receive a report showcasing the online activities of the child.