Did you know that kids and teens are using the internet and social media apps more than ever? Have you given a thought to understand why is this happening? Several reports suggest that due to Covid-19, most kids and teens are spending more time online. They are often not supervised by their adults.
When Covid-19 was declared a global pandemic, most countries were forced to observe lockdowns. This led to the closure of offices, schools, markets, etc. Since most schools shifted to online learning, kids and teens had to attend their classes on Zoom, using the internet service.
Because of online learning, kids had to spend more time in front of their screens. Besides attending their online classes, they were using social media apps to connect and communicate with their friends to keep themselves busy and entertained. When kids spend more time on the internet, they are exposed to several online dangers.
Cyberbullying, sexting, pornography, and online predating are some of the most common online dangers that can be harmful to kids. This is why it is important for parents to stay involved in their kids’ digital lives, know about the apps they are using, use phone spy apps and parental controls where possible, and report and block people who make your kids uncomfortable online.
Tips to Protect Kids from Online Predators
Like we have discussed earlier, due to the closure of schools and stay-at-home orders issued by the government to curb the global pandemic, kids and teens have to spend more time on the internet. Their increased online presence has exposed them to more online dangers including sexual predators.
We have listed some important tips that parents can follow to make sure their kids do not become victims of sexual predators. Here’s how you can protect your kids from online predators while they are using the internet and social media platforms.
Do Not Use Suggestive Nicknames or Photos
You should not allow your kids to use suggestive nicknames or photos on social media or any other online platform because these can attract unwanted attention from online predators. Therefore, your kids should be careful enough to not use such nicknames or photos on their profiles.
Beware of People Who Flatter You Online
Online predators have a habit of saying nice and kind things to kids because that’s the only way to attract them. They use flattery to try to initiate a conversation with a kid on the internet. Though some people your kids meet online are genuinely nice but you cannot always say the same for them. If someone is doing everything that they can to please your kids or flattering them way too much, then you need to make sure your kids are aware of that. They need to be suspicious of people who flatter them too much.
Avoid People Who Get Personal with You
Another important tip that you need to make your kids understand and follow is that they need to avoid talking to people online who get way too personal with them. If someone wants to have an intimate conversation with your kid or wants to talk about things that are related to sexual activities or personal lives, then your kid needs to end the conversation right away. Because once your kid is pulled in a conversation like this, it may be difficult for them to stop or come out of that phase. Be careful of people who get personal with you and avoid them at all costs.
Do Not Believe in What People Say Online
It’s important to teach your kids to not believe all the people they interact with on the internet and social media platforms. Most online predators disguise their true identities and pretend to be kids or teens to talk to others kids on the internet. They may create a fake account on social media, use a fake profile photo of another kid and add fake information in their profile to make it more appealing and convincing.
Never Agree to Meet Anyone You’ve Met Online
Online predators normally form a relationship with a kid on the internet and then try to arrange a face-to-face meeting with them to take their relationship to the next level. Even if they seem nice or genuine, your kid should never agree to meet them outside. They shouldn’t even agree to invite them to their house. The person who is convincing your kid to meet them can be dangerous for them. Make sure your kid never agrees to meet someone who they have just met online and don’t know anything about them.
Inform Parents If They Experience a Problem
You need to teach your kids to come and talk to you if they experience any problem on the internet. If someone is trying to make your kid uncomfortable or talking about personal things with them, then make sure your kid comes to you and informs you everything about it immediately. When kids share everything about their online activity with their parents, parents can stay updated about their kids’ lives and can protect them from harmful online dangers. Also, you need to teach your kids to save any messages and emails in case they may be required as evidence against the perpetrator.
Enable Privacy Settings and Use Parental Controls
It is extremely important to enable privacy settings on all the devices and social media platforms your kids are using. You can also enable parental controls on their devices and apps so that they can stay away from unwanted online dangers. Several spy phone apps are available out there that can be installed on your kid’s smartphone and monitor their online activities. With the help of phone spy apps, you can control, manage, and monitor your kid’s smartphone and internet activities the way you want. You can block and filter inappropriate sites and apps on their phone, you can monitor their messages and emails to know if they have been in touch with an online predator, etc.
Allow Kids to Use Devices in Open Areas
You need to allow your kids to use their devices in open areas of the house where you can easily keep an eye on them. For instance, ask your kid to use their computer, laptop, or smartphone in the living room so that you can also keep an eye on their screen. Never allow your kid to use their device in their bedroom or late at night.