Today, there is practically nobody who has never used the Internet. We all have dependencies on it, one way or another. Many of us use the Internet to make purchases, play games, socialize, and process financial transactions. It is fast and accurate, but it has associated risks. Today, there are countless incidents of identity theft and cyberbullying, some of which have even lead to suicide. If adults are armed with the right tools and knowledge, we can all protect ourselves and our children from the potential harm other people can cause to us through the Internet.Internet Safety
The Internet gave us the tools we need to interact quickly. Many companies also put up websites that allowed us to explore and show our creativity. It also paved the way for information to be shared quickly and thus improve our knowledge in ways we could never have done before.
This liberty also invited criminals to lurk online and find unsuspecting victims. To help protect yourself and your children, you must educate yourself about online red flags. Being well-informed about how criminals work can save you and your children from the bad things that can befall you.
Today, people chat online more than they do through text messages because of the many creative ways one can do it and because of costs. Teenagers spend a lot of time in chat rooms and meet new people everyday. They have the capacity to share videos and it is not uncommon for many children to feel safe talking to a stranger because there is no physical threat. What they do not realize is that they are vulnerable to cyber criminals.
As an adult, you must know that email and chat services are also avenues to transfer data. Many people are lured into transmitting personal identifiable information without knowing it. The transfer of this sensitive information can lead to the success of the cybercriminal to perpetuate his plans.
In addition, online chat and email are tools that sex predators use to lure young people into meeting them. Once the teenager meets this stranger in person, it may be too late to save the young one from being a victim.
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter—all these social media websites and apps that we use are fun and engaging. They are so popular that almost no one who has a smartphone does not have them, except those who have no interest in socializing. But behind the scenes are criminals waiting for the right opportunity to strike. They understand that many of us use these apps to communicate with family and friends.
The biggest risk that everyone can fall into is sharing too much information. People post pictures of their houses, their phone numbers, birth dates, and many more things about their lives. Even when you set your settings to private, you can never guarantee when these information will be available to the public because you made the mistake of turning your settings back to public, not realizing that these information will show in your profile.
All information you share online, including the ones you share on your YouTube or blog, if you have one, is accessible to criminals. They will use this information to get ahead of the game and victimize you.
Many of us have only experienced physical bullying. We mostly experienced this in school when we were all young and small enough as targets of the bigger boys or girls. As we matured, we rarely experience this anymore because matured individuals are more careful about how they behave.
But with the Internet, anybody can be a victim and anyone who wishes to bully will bully, believing that he is just expressing himself. Online bullies hide behind the reality of anonymity or distance. To a certain degree, even adults commit suicide because of cyberbullying.
And if adults can feel that much pain to tale their own lives, just imagine how cruel it is going to be for a child. Cyberspace has become the new playground of bullies. And it happens on texts, chat rooms, and social media.
It can all start with a simple photo you post. People can spark a fire of rumor about this and many people will join the bandwagon, hissing very bad remarks about you for an issue they barely know. Nobody is safe.
If your child avoids using technology, you are not giving him an opportunity to grow. He becomes stressed and this can lead to a low self-esteem. His academic performance may suffer and his overall development will be stunted.
The Internet has made it possible to transact without cash. These transactions are fast and secure and they are global. However, the shopping convenience also becomes the road for hackers to get your information and use it to their advantage. Despite the security of online transactions, many people still fall victim to identity theft because they do not have the knowledge on how to prevent it.
There are many areas that a hacker can exploit. As a consumer, you typically provide your credit card numbers, street address, birth date, social security number, and other pertinent information to the website where you are making a purchase. This exchange of information between you and the provider or payment processor is not dangerous in itself.
What's dangerous is if you do not know how to protect yourself from the attacks of hackers. These criminals will lure you into a website that looks exactly the same as the merchant's website where you made a transaction. And then they will ask you to input the same information. By the time you are done, they have completely stored everything they need to about you.
These hackers are like dumpster divers rummaging through your waste and looking for valuable information that will tell them so much about you. But how do they even know that you made a transaction with a legitimate merchant? They don't. They just assumed that you did and if you took the bait, you are definitely hooked.
There was a time when a sexual offender had to lure his victims through a lot of work and schemes. They pose as candy vendors and lure children in their trucks. Today, it takes a lot lesser effort than that. All a sexual predator has to do is to lurk in chat rooms and communicate with young kids. They will appear to be very friendly. They will offer advice for the victim's problems until the victim starts to trust him.
Predators today are difficult to tell from any other person. They all appear to be normal and functional individuals. Not all predators are pedophiles. Pedophiles are only interested with young kids. Predators are interested in teenagers and even adults who are willing to take risky behaviors.
As a parent, you must be very observant with how your teenager behaves. If she closes her laptop whenever you enter a room, or if she starts to withdraw from the family, you must understand that these are signs that your child is keeping something away from you.
Restricting computer use will not spare your child. The key here is to communicate effectively. Make sure that your child can trust you. Talk to your teenager about the dangers of sex predators. Tell them that many adults will do horrible things and that strangers are not the best people to trust and build friendship with.
Gone are the days of simple phones. Today almost any person has a smart phone capable of sending and receiving pictures and texts. A lot of parents forget to monitor these phones or simply do not want to because they do not want to invade a child's privacy.
A cellphone is a tool that a predator uses all the time, knowing that your teenager is going through hormonal changes and is now growing secondary sexual characteristics, the criminal knows that he can easily persuade any young person to engage in sexual online activities with him. One example of this is sexting.
Sexting is an activity that involves sending and receiving sexually explicit messages and conversations. This is illegal in many countries and if done by a minor with an adult, it qualifies as child pornography. As a parent, make sure you teach your children the dangers of this behavior.