Understanding the Threats Children Face on the Internet

mom and boy looking at computer together

Most adults can still remember a time before personal computers and the communication technology made life far more convenient. Along with the greater convenience brought by computers and other internet devices, there are also many new dangers. Identity theft, hacked bank accounts, scam mails, and the chance of losing all the precious data stored on the computer to a virus are just a few of the threats.

It is hard to imagine growing up totally immersed in computers and surrounded by adults who still don’t fully understand the potential dangers. This is the situation that modern children face, however, and it is up to parents to learn about the threats and provide guidance. Excellent software exists to aid you in this task, but it is still necessary to begin learning about the four primary threats.

The best way to prevent harm to your child from occurring is having a respectful and trusting relationship. Nothing beats honesty, but developmental stages must also be considered. Adolescents are at a stage where peer approval is becoming just as important as parent approval, and they can make stupid decisions because of this.

Cyberbullying

Teachers and parents have only begun to understand the horrendous effects of bullying in the past decade. Besides the psychological damage caused by social ostracism, bullying has been shown to cause physiological changes in the development of immature brains. These changes can last a lifetime and make individuals more prone to emotional disorders and other chronic diseases.

Cyberbullying is no different, and it has received a lot of press in recent years. Several children have taken their own lives after being relentlessly harassed electronically by peers, and many others suffers the damaging effects to their academic and social lives in silence. Because it takes place in chat rooms, via mobile devices, and through email, sometimes the only way to catch this problem is through active monitoring of electronic communications.

Internet Predators

This may be the best-known threat a child faces on the internet, and there has certainly been a lot of press and police activity devoted to stopping it. However, it still happens more than most parents think, and it can be just as invisible as cyberbullying to someone who is not aware of the warning signs. The first step is to learn warning signs, which are available from the FBI and other law enforcement agencies.

Damaged Reputation

Anything your child says or posts on the internet can come back to haunt them later. Webpages that no longer appear available can be retrieved by services like the Wayback Machine. Conversations that feel like talking are more akin to writing a letter that is saved on multiple drives. Children need to understand this aspect of the internet.

Content Exposure

More access to information is great in many cases, but it can be a great threat as well. Pornography, images and videos of stunts, and directions for making homemade explosives are just a few of the potential problems. Unfiltered access to content can be dangerous and damaging for young minds.

Obviously, it would be pointless and damaging to the trust with your child to block their access to the internet entirely, but software like PC Pandora or Wolfeye Keylogger can help you keep an eye on things. These options provide a less restrictive means of monitoring and blocking specific applications and content even from a distance.

Michael Muhammad is a private investigator and freelance blogger. There are a lot of tools in the information age to help you learn what you need to know. One of his favorites is the very useful Reverse Phone directory reversephonelookup.org.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to protect their children from the dangers online.

Image courtesy of Chris. P via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.

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