Protecting different age groups from online threats

Internet safety for your children: an essential duty for all parents

Internet accessibility is at an all-time high. Now, this is great when you need Wifi to make important calls, contact your overseas relatives, get in touch with people in emergency situations, and maintain a remote job. However, many of us rarely consider the many disadvantages that internet accessibility has, especially for the younger generations. Nowadays, children are online at school, at home and with their friends. With iPads, tablets, smartphones and laptops at their behest, the possibility of online threats impacting young users has become more likely.

Children and young teenagers are at risk from unsuitable content, leaking personal data, accidentally downloading files illegally, cyberbullying, spyware, viruses and many more. So how can parents allow their children have the liberty of surfing the internet and simultaneously ensure they are safe while doing so?

Banning internet usage altogether is not an option, and might actually lead to more harm. And it’s important to gradually allow more freedom and independence as children grow and become rational adults. Here’s a guide on how to correctly navigate online safety rules for your children as they grow. Each age group constitutes different guidelines for your child, effectively protecting them from online threats.

Four to eight-year-olds

Young, elementary-school going children, typically aged between 4 to 8 years, can encounter four main risks online: content, contact, conduct and contract.

Content risks refer to things that your young one might find unsettling, disturbing and uncomfortable as they come across them accidentally. This could include, sexual content in games and pop up ads, images of animal cruelty or violence. Contact risks refer to children coming into contact with strangers and adults posing as children online. They may be dangerously coaxed into sharing personal information or contact details.

Conduct risks involve children displaying violent or aggressive modelled behaviour that they’ve learnt from inappropriate online pages. This also includes accidentally making in-app purchases. And finally, contract risks are signing up for third-party contracts accidentally or using an app or a program that could leave their device open to viruses, illegal surveillance, identity theft or fraud.

Since children have a limited understanding of computers and how the internet works, it is crucial that parents remain close by when kids browse the web to ensure they’re on age-appropriate sites. Open communication is crucial at this stage, and children need to be made aware of the many dangers online. Xunison’s app offers handy parental controls that monitor internet and social media usage and blocks inappropriate content.

Nine to twelve-year-olds

Typically, children in this age group are in middle school, and their curiosity naturally increases about social media apps and websites. It’s crucial to keep an eye on the accounts they may have opened and what kind of information they’re sharing online. Have they uploaded pictures, and are their accounts public? Furthermore, games like Roblox and Minecraft foster socialization and interaction. Sometimes, this also makes it easier for adult predators to lure kids into inappropriate chats. It is essential to restrict access to certain websites and ensure your children understand what is age-appropriate for them and what isn’t.

At this age, kids begin to use the internet more and more for schoolwork, interaction with friends and exploring their interests. Allowing them the independence and liberty to do so is vital, but it’s also important to evaluate their daily dose of internet usage, ensuring that it remains balanced and healthy.

The Xunison BriteKey app allows you to limit the time allowed on the internet, monitor any suspicious activity and continuously scan your network to block any potential threats and compromised devices.

Thirteen to eighteen-year-olds

You may think you’re out of troubled waters by the time your children transition into their exciting teen years, but they require the utmost attention here as well. This is a stage where parents must allow their kids greater independence, but also continue to guide them about internet safety, ensuring a healthy balance. Sharing pictures online, attempting to visit inappropriate websites and exploring sexual material should be discussed openly to make sure your teenagers are comfortable with sharing any negative experiences.

One of the best ways for parents to keep their teenagers safe online is to educate them about the risks and the benefits of online interactions. By arming our teenagers with the knowledge and the confidence to navigate the internet safely, we help them avoid the pitfalls of online ignorance and exploitation. We also allow our teenagers to express themselves online without fear of being bullied or harmed. This helps them build a secure online presence, allowing them to limit access to their online accounts and protecting their privacy. Also, having extra security measures in place for your Wifi network only increases protection from any potential cyber hacking. Head over to How to best secure your home network against cyber threats for more information.