Children’s online safety has become a matter of debate around the world. A young user of about 7 years old will likely to have similar interests as one of 12 years old or even a 17-year-old teen. Parents worldwide need to ensure their children’s privacy is safe on the internet. We have created this guide to show how you can safeguard your children when they use the internet.
We will be revealing the steps that you should take, information that your child should know as an internet user, and, most importantly, how to stay safe while using the internet. Read along to discover everything:
A recent survey reveals the rising number of internet users around the world.
Children and Teenagers Use of Technology
According to a study in the U.S, the age of users accessing the internet has decreased greatly. About 80 percent children under 5 years of age utilize the internet on a weekly basis. In addition, as the children become older, their use of the internet is increased. In the U.S, about 42 percent and 36 percent of 8-11 years old boys and girls utilize the internet multiple times a day, where one-fifth do it on a daily basis. More than 90 percent of teens go online on a daily basis, including 25 percent who claim to be online constantly.
In South Korea, a country considered as the weirdest in terms of cyber regulations, the government claims that the children of ages between 10 to 19 are addicted to the internet. The most commonly used medium to access the internet across developing countries is fixed broadband internet access. In many countries, internet cafes and more resources are vital providers of the internet to children and young ones. The providers will probably remain for some time in the future.
In recent times, mobile internet access has achieved great hype. The fastest-growing region in term of mobile subscriptions is the Asia Pacific, where China and India stand as the leader in technology, with about 980m smartphone subscribers in India only.
The number of mobile connections in the world is about 7 billion. More than 230 million of it belongs to Mobile Broadband. In Latin America, mobile broadband stands as the most widespread in the region than the fixed broadband because of the affordability of smartphones and increasing coverage of mobile networks.
Today, a large number of devices offer internet access. These devices include laptops, desktop, mobile phones, smartphones, tablets, and more handheld devices. A study in 2014 in the UK has revealed that more than a third of twelve to fifteen years old gain access to the internet through mobile phones. In addition, the tablet is only a single media that has developed in terms of popularity among the five to seven years old in the last year, with having about 54 percent usage in 2014 and 39 percent in 2013.
The elevated usage of internet on smartphones has offered various perks. For instance, a board of services can be offered through smartphones to children located in remote locations, societies, and villages. Smartphones can serve as a vital medium for children to connect with others for academic purposes and group studies. It can be significantly important for different nomadic communities suffering from natural events and disasters.
Access to illicit information is dangerous for the children and minors when completing their homework. According to a study on children’s internet use in the UK24 highlights that about 75 percent of children aged 8 to 11 years and 84 percent of minor-aged about 12 to 15 years, and utilize the internet for doing homework.
Among the most utilized resources on the internet is the Wikipedia, a multilingual and freemium encyclopedia on the internet. It allows editing, reading, and writing articles on almost every valid subject. In addition, you can leverage the fact discovering exercises, leading you from one page to the next one. The search for undiscovered information is never a tedious task. With the localization of media, language barrier is starting to weaken.
With the emergence of social networks, socialization across different cultures, languages, and norms has become easier than ever. Creating a profile on a social network is common for many children and youngsters. It allows the children to continue discussions with friends and take help for homework and assignments. Sending messages and listening to favorite media are good hobbies for the masses.
In the United Kingdom, 1 in 4 children use Twitter, one of the most popular social networks in the world. Sharing videos, photos, and more media is common and popular activity for netizens. Many children and youngsters in Europe tend to create a profile on media-sharing websites, including the Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat, etc. Various bands have been formed due to their popularity on the mainstream media sharing platforms. Children stream popular and viral media on smartphones and more handheld devices.
How Big of an Issue is Protecting Kids Online?
If you think that securing kids on the internet is not a major issue, try performing just a few obscure searches on Google, and you will soon want to disconnect the internet connection immediately. As an adult internet users, almost every one of us comes across the illicit pop-up ads that are not safe for children in any way.
Considering the urge to discover new things, children don’t think about the dangers behind those popups, and they will be curious to know what is behind those URLs. If you are still unsure about how big an issue is protecting children on the internet, then just go through these stats:
- More than 40 percent of the children say that they have been to the porn site
- 1 in the 16 children have seen the hardcore porn media
- About 1 in the 12 kids engage in sexual discussion or share sexual media online
- 1 in 25 children have sent sexually exploited photos to someone
- 25 percent of kids pretend as being adult for opening an account online
- 1 in 20 children have made plans to meet even stranger from an online conversation
The stats are frightening for many parents. The increasing number of smartphones is making it difficult for a parent to watch their children’s activity on the internet. In reality, about 45 percent of children receive their first smartphone at the ages of ten and thirteen.
The researches have revealed that about 72 percent of children with smartphones have gained access to messenger applications and data. Think again, is a ten-year-old child too young for mobile freedom. A large number of parents might not think so, as they consider mobile as the medium to communicate with them.
Facts about Kids Wireless Usage
elow are some of the interesting facts about kids’ wireless usage:
- According to an average, children are just 12.1 when they get their first cell phone.
- About 56% children of 8 to 12 years age own a cellphone.
- 60% of families who provide cellphone to children do it when children are between 10 to 11 years of age. And 20% give cellphone to 8 to 9 years old child.
- Among children of 8 years or younger, 21% own smartphone
- About 69% of families have children of under 8 years who own a cellphone
- About 38% of children under 2 years of age have used smartphone for watching media.
Smart Rules for Children and Teenagers
You can find great and relevant information on the internet. From playing games, chatting, and meeting new people to discovering useful information, you can do almost anything on the internet. Undeniably, you have the right to enjoy and discover that the digital universe offers.
However, cybercriminals prowl around the internet, waiting to gain access to your confidential information and exploit it. You need to understand that your friends and family members aren’t the only people on the internet. Various hackers, identity thieves, and cyber threats are waiting to conduct attacks on the netizen’s data privacy. Also, some people want to bully, harass, or even harm your child on the internet. Thus you need to be smart and follow the SMART rule that we have explained below:
S – Set Limit
When going online, you need to watch carefully on your privacy. Be it about social media, or any online privacy website, you might think of yourself as an anonymous user. However, when collecting information on the internet, you can reveal too much about yourself and your family. Thus you need to set limits while accessing websites. In case, you access any public forums, make sure you are connected with a privacy tool like VPN to conceal your identity.
M – Meeting Online
Many times online contacts convert into friendships. Thus, it would help if you thought twice prior to meeting a friend in real life. If you want to meet a friend offline, always take someone reliable with you. On top, always ask your parent or any other trusted person to accompany you, avoiding any unexpected disappointment.
A – Accepting Invitation
A large number of people communicate with persons they already know in real life. However, you can be friends with friends of friends. It can be fun, but remember that should you really share your information with someone; you are not ready to count as a friend.
R – React
You need to safeguard yourself from distressing media on the internet. Never access or share links to illicit sites. If you come across something that bothers you, then talk to your parents about it or someone you trust. Avoid bad behavior and leave distressing conversations or sites with unacceptable media. Understand that in real life, there are people who, for any reason, want to insult, be aggressive, or share harmful media. Thus, it is better to ignore and block such people.
If you feel any concern or issues while going online, then you definitely need to tell someone you trust. It could be your parent or any adult you can give you an honest advice about what to do. There is surely no problem that is too big to be solved. You can also call the children’s helpline in your country. Also, you can report inappropriate media, website, or activities on the internet.
Get Involved in the Children’s Online Activities
A parent should know what their kids are up to on the internet, who they talk to, and what they share. You can talk to children, utilize tools, and keep an eye on their activities. Most importantly, apart from blocking media, you should educate your children about what they should avoid on the internet.
Below are the basic guidelines to tell your children for going online:
- Follow rules of the family, and those that are set by the ISP
- Never share personal photographs
- Don’t reveal personal information such as contact, address, location, or any other details
- Use a display name and never share password or login credentials
- Don’t agree to meet with anyone without approval from a parent
Learn How to Use Machines & Digital Devices Safely
You need to learn about how to use machines with proper safety. Make sure that you have installed and learnt about how to use a firewall or anti-virus software. Do remember to update these tools. Learn about computer’s operating system such as Linux, Windows, and more. You need to know how to patch it, and it is updated. Talk to parents if there are parental controls available, so they set media that is appropriate for your age.
Never try to crack the parental control. If you ever receive a file from untrusted sources, never open it. It could be a Trojan or virus aiming to infect your machine. You need to get a feeling for your machine, and learn how it works so that you can take action when something unexpected happens.
Internet Safety Rules
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) protects children younger than 13 years of age. It is designed to keep others from getting children’s personal information without notifying or agreeing with their parent. COOPA needs websites to explain privacy policies and achieve parental consent prior to collection or utilizing children’s personal information such as address, name, phone number, or any other information. This law prohibits a website from needing a child to give personal information than necessary to play online games or entering into a contest.
Online Rights of Children
Below are the online rights of the children:
- You hold right to make use of technologies to develop personal traits and enhance capabilities
- You hold the right to protect the identity
- You have the right to participate, enjoy, and access information that is appropriate to your age and personality
- You hold the right to express yourself freely, and get respect while giving respect to others
- You hold the right to be sure and discuss anything you come across online
- You hold the right to SAY NO! when someone makes you feel awkward with requests
Through keeping basic rules in mind, you can be safe from threats that you can encounter online. If you come across any unpleasant or distressing experiences, make sure you talk to a trusted person. Do remember you have the right to be safe and the responsibility to act when online or offline.