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Your Kids Are in Danger from The Online Predators You Don’t Know About.

Kids Online Danger

You wouldn’t let your child walk down the middle of a busy highway, would you?  Most would consider this child endangerment.  So, why aren’t you strictly monitoring their online activities? Why aren’t you educating them about the predators and other dangers? It’s time to stop doing what you are right now, and think about this.

Education about data safety is more important than ever.  

Keeping children safe online is a goal everyone must get behind – parents, relatives, teachers and organizational leaders, etc. If you don’t understand the online threats your children face, it’s time you got educated, and educate your children.

Take a look at the latest online dangers targeting your kids and teens.

Child-Specific Phishing Schemes

Email and text message phishing schemes are growing. And the criminals behind them are targeting groups with the highest success rates –your children and teens.

While your children may be technologically savvy, they don’t always have the real-world experience to recognize phishing schemes.

Plus, most kids tend to rush headlong into things without thinking about the consequences—This could mean that they’re sharing information they shouldn’t. Online predators know this and are urging them on.

Train your children about the dangers of phishing messages. Teach them how to recognize these schemes, and above all, not to share any personal information online.   

Malware App Downloads

This is a big problem, especially for kids and teens who have their own phones. Apps are incredibly easy to download, and frequently free or priced at only a few dollars. As a result, kids like to download and try them out.

The problem is when malware apps target kids. They promote free video games and software, but, instead, deliver a virus to their phones, tablets or computers. It’s critical that you install security software on their devices so they can’t download whatever apps they want.

Teach kids not to download apps without your authorization first.    

Compromised Networks

When kids want internet access to keep up with their friends, they want it badly – And that usually means using any available Wi-Fi network, as long as it works. This is a problem because Wi-Fi networks have varying levels of security – or no security at all—making it easy for “man-in-the-middle” data theft and other wireless hacking.

Teach your children not to use random Wi-Fi service, especially those without any sort of authentication.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying has become an overused term these days, and it’s sometimes difficult to identify in the world of digital communication. Are these comments jokes, or are they truly intended to harm?

For example, once children reach a certain age, they may have already been called terrible things during online gaming or while chatting with friends.

But with the power of anonymity, cyberbullying can get much darker. This includes spreading lies on social media, stealing account information, assuming different identities to hurt people, and more.

It’s important to teach young users not to hurt each other, and make sure that they are neither recipients nor instigators of this sort of bullying. Digital interactions should not be immune to accountability at any level.

Entering the Dark Web

A lot of teens try to access the dark web in search of illicit information, or just out of curiosity. The problem is that they don’t really know what they’re doing.

It’s easy to download some Tor software and try to open an encrypted channel to various black-market websites. But that’s only part of a complicated process: Jumping into the dark web can be quite dangerous. Rules of civility rarely apply, and many links are deceptive and lead to malware, or outright illegal activities.

Tell your teens that even if they just “try out” the dark web, they’re still opening their device to identity theft and hacking.

Sexual Predators

These days, there’s no forum or site your child should join outside of carefully monitored education/safety zones. There are thousands of different, specialized subreddits, tumblrs, and social groups—And, who knows what sexual predators are lurking behind innocent-looking identities? These predators represent a serious danger, especially to kids who haven’t learned much about online anonymity yet.

It’s very important to teach kids as early as possible about the dangers of talking to strangers online, or believing what people say (this works well as a phishing lesson, too). Additionally – and on an obvious note – keep kids off any forums related to sexual matters, regardless of their purpose.

Trading Information

This happens a lot in more peer-related online conversations. Someone will say, “Sure I can help you with this, but I need ______.” This could be a PayPal address, gamer handle, or other contact information.

The problem is that kids don’t see the harm in providing information like this to a “friend” or someone who appears to be their age.

Teach your children to be cautious when participating in any online conversations, and not to trade information—even in peer-related groups.  

Drug Rings

Illegal drugs are everywhere—even in “small-town” America.  It can be surprisingly simple for young teens to get involved in illegal drug-related activities via online services (even if they aren’t on the dark web).

Teens are especially at risk because:

  • They rarely know the details of drug-related laws, and what counts as a felony or misdemeanor, and
  • They don’t usually care anyway, because they don’t truly understand the full consequences of getting caught, or addicted to drugs.

When teaching your children about online safety, it’s important to underline the legal dangers of asking for drugs, or drug-making instructions, as well as the health and safety dangers of using them.

Groupthink

There’s an interesting article about the incredibly stupid things Harvard students have done online.   These actions are now preserved in time forever and could ruin their professional hopes in years to come.

Why does this happen to even the best and brightest? Because it’s extremely easy to fall into groupthink patterns online—where you believe that what you’re doing is acceptable.  Or it’s totally fine because it’s “just a joke” or they’re just “having fun” with friends. This kind of thinking can be very dangerous.

It’s important to remind growing teens that their online selves aren’t separate from who they are in the real world. Everything is connected and has consequences.

For help keeping your children safe online, contact Spade Technology in Boston and New England.  We can hold an in-service at your place of business to teach you and your staff about the dangers, so you can teach and protect your children.  (508) 339--5163 info@spadetechnology.com

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