5 major threats children face while using the internet, and how to prevent them.
The Internet has become the most dominant and attractive source of information, education, fun and socialization of all. Irrelative of our age groups, social status, sex or race, almost every one of us is utilizing the internet in one way or another.
As far as children are concerned (aged 10 through 16), the internet is much more dangerous to them than the streets. The stranger is no longer down the street, at the playground or in the shopping mall. Computers allow strangers to use on-line services to talk directly with your child from the privacy of their own home.
In this article, I will be focusing on 5 major threats children face while using the internet - unattended, and try as much as possible to come up with preventive means, in order to keep our children safe.
What are the risks?
- Inappropriate contact: from people who pretend to be their own age, and may wish to abuse, exploit or bully them. (meeting in malls or other rendez-vous)
- Access to Inappropriate content: being able to access sexually explicit, racist, violent, extremist or other harmful material.
- Children gaining access to your own personal information stored on your computer. Innocently sharing family pictures and information, addresses, phone numbers, and even credit card information.
- Online Scam – Emails informing them that they won a prize and that they have to make a small payment to be able to collect their prize.
- Sharing too much personal information, images and locations.
What your kids should know, and how should they act?
- Don't give out passwords, credit card, drivers license, etc. information while "on line", even to someone who identifies themselves as a representative of your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or the chat provider. This has been a favorite scam of crooks.
- Do not give out last name, street address, phone number or school/employer's name. Never give out this information openly in chat, either. If/when you feel comfortable sharing this information with people, it can be given through e-mail or private messages.
- Never share your plans or your parents' on Facebook. Example: "We are all travelling to China tomorrow for 5 days", or "My parents are out of town". Funny but true, you just invited someone to break into your home while you are away.
How are parents advised to act?
- Continuous discussions, and openness with children. Let them feel safe to share their online experience with you
- Placing the computers in an open area. Somewhere close to the living room or the hallway
- Timely limited access. Specific Hours per day
- Randomly check their handhelds (mobile users) for weird activity
- Parental-control software enables you to filter and block specific sites and web pages that contain inappropriate material. It also allows you to monitor what your kids have been up to on a PC, and restrict which programs they use and for how long
- Check recommended application for monitoring social networking activity (facebook, twitter, instagram and myspace)
General Security Advice and Information you must be aware of at all times.
- Always keep your accounts secure. The best passwords are 8 to 12 characters in length and use a combination of numbers, keyboard characters and upper and lower-case letters. The longer your password is, the longer it will take someone (or more likely, some program) to crack it
- Facebook has 1 billion users and 83 million (8.7 percent) are fake. How to spot a fake account on Facebook?
- Every minute 19 people in the UK face cyber-crime
- We all remember the picture albums we used to have back in 2000. Have you ever shared your pictures with your friends and gave them copies?
- Share Your Story: with friends and family, on social networks and local media if possible. You can always ask to keep your identity discrete while sharing stories
- Check lists of Pedophiles posted online, and by a lot of moms. Facebook has a group for example, which discloses their names
- Hire a Web Detective if possible. Someone who is able to get you identities of abusers online
- Avoid Spyware: A type of malware that collects your data and sends it to criminals
- Deleted data is never wiped. Always backup your hard-drive and destroy it when you're done with your PC, and before selling it or giving it away
By: Wissam Abdel Baki - PMP, ITIL, CITP