The best way to keep your teenager out of trouble on the web is education. You should be the one to teach them how to browse safely, as well as how to avoid cyberbullying and other digital dangers. We’ll focus on cybersecurity tips to solve the most common problems teenagers experience or may experience every day on the internet.
This is a problem parents would believe their kids are facing. “My child would never do such a thing,” a proud parent would say. But sexting, which seems like just an innocent and arousing game, might go public fast.
Parents might think sexting is very similar to texting, just involving a couple of adult jokes about genitalia and whatnot. In reality, the situation is worse – it includes sending and receiving pictures of underwear, nudes, or even live video chats (a third party can record that).
A whopping 50% of parents aren’t aware that it’s illegal for their kids to take a nude photo of themselves in the first place.
In the UK, having videos or images of anyone (including yourself) under 18 is illegal. Additionally, if your kid is 14 already, they’ll get a criminal record for “creating indecent images of children.” UK’s National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) states that 28% of parents don’t know that it’s prohibited for a child to send a sexual or nude image to a peer. 50% of parents aren’t aware that it’s illegal for their kids to take a nude photo of themselves in the first place. So, do you belong in the educated half? What about your kid?
Now imagine that your son has his phone taken by a police officer, who finds that they have inappropriate pictures of a peer from their school. A classmate shared them. Your kid didn’t take those pictures, they disapproved of them, but they’ve seen them and forgot to delete them. Now they’re eligible for indictment under the Protection of Children Act 1978, and the Criminal Justice Act 1988 – how terrible is that?!
The problem is that according to the NSPCC’s study, only 39% of parents are concerned that their kids may become involved in sexting in the future. We only hope this is about to change and invite you to act now.
Cyberbullying is now occurring more often than straight-up face-to-face bullying. Typically, it happens on social networks. They usually feed off one another, and a wicked prank made online can be shared with the whole school, and the next morning when you’re back in class, everybody knows. Therefore, cyberbullying is a complex problem that should be solved both online and offline.
43% of teenagers have experienced cyberbullying, as shown by the study from the London School of Economics and Politics. Yet only 1 in 10 victims tells a parent or other trusted adult about it, as per the USA’s National Crime Prevention Council report. Such seclusion raises the risk of self-harm – cyberbullying victims are two to nine times more likely to contemplate suicide.
Leaking sensitive information (doxxing)
Most people (parents included) use the same password for all accounts, usually the name of a pet. On what grounds do you rest your belief that your teenager is doing it differently? And what keeps you thinking your teen hasn’t already guessed that password to access your accounts?
Personal data can be leaked by accident or during an innocent chat with a stranger.
Leaking personal data, such as your full name, address, and birthdate, may result in identity theft. What’s more, even strong passwords can’t ensure your information will be safe, mainly if you use cloud services, a possible target for hackers.
Cyber perverts – a parent’s worst nightmare
In 2015, a worldwide parent web users survey showed that 41% of parents are concerned about their kids, possibly communicating with online sexual predators. Their concern is legitimate because 20% of teenagers who regularly go online say they have received unwanted sexual solicitation via the web, guardchild.com states. The number may be high because parents imagine perverts and their cyber counterparts as middle-aged men with beards, glasses, and trench coats.
Unfortunately, most of the time, they look normal, and that’s why teens fall into their trap as an ant falls into the trap of an ant-eater’s long and sticky tongue.
The teenage years are also the first “true loves,” crushes, and heightened hormones. Therefore, it’s natural that your kid, who’s not a child anymore, seeks a romantic partner. Therein is the danger of communicating via Tinder or any other online dating site: you can’t know who you’re talking to. For all you know, it might be the bearded middle-aged man with glasses and a trench coat.
So, not only can they lure out sensitive data, they can ask to meet in a secluded area where things can quickly go very wrong. Even if the person’s pictures aren’t fake, you should be very cautious – he or she may be way older than your teen. As you may remember, it’s always considered cool to be friends with the older kids, let alone have an affair with someone who’s above the legal age for driving or drinking. Both of these things can be combined and mixed with your child for a dangerous cocktail.
Become friends with your kid on social media
Most of the younger generation ran away to Snapchat and similar apps after feeling the embarrassment of their Mom or Dad commenting on their #nofilter selfies. But in any case, it would be great if you were friends with your teen at least on some of the social networks to check at least once in a while if there are no new strange connections.
Just stalk them quietly – it’s not that creepy if no one knows you’re doing it.
The old thing for teens is to be amongst the cool, popular kids. Therefore, they might be adding friends from unlikely places. So one of our cybersecurity tips here is this: don’t embarrass your kid with your comments on social networks, stalk them quietly – it’s not creepy if no one knows you’re doing it. If you see strange older people commenting or liking your son’s shirtless selfie, better have a talk about them in a non-intrusive way, instead of writing a comment on his wall using ten aggressive emojis. Teens have to know you’re not there to judge them or “tell them what to do,” but to protect them from bearded and bespectacled middle-aged men in trench coats.