The internet can be a dangerous and overwhelming place for everyone, especially children. Kids on social media can encounter varying threats, from inappropriate content and cyberbullying to scams and cyber predators. According to ExpressVPN’s survey, 59% of respondents said they were most worried about their child being bullied online, followed by concerns about their kid being groomed.
A lot has changed since new parents of today would likely have become acquainted with social media for the first time. Back in 2005, only about 5% of American adults used social media. But as per Pew Research Center, more than 90% of teens today use social media. A new study shows that teens and kids in America spend more time on social media and digital screens than ever. The number of hours they spend online has increased considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finding children on social media is not too uncommon today. Unfortunately, there are many dangers lurking around that may cause a lot of mental distress to young kids and even haunt them later in life.
School buying is not a new trend, but the ability of online bullies to follow their victims everywhere they go definitely is. Traditional bullying depends on power imbalance caused by verbal harassment or physical intimidation. But the threat of cyberbullying often comes from the ability for bullies to stay anonymous and/or imbalance of power surrounding technological fluency.
Predators targeting children
Grooming is a huge social media risk for children. Interactions on social media can start with just a message or friend request. Online predators start conversations with children and gradually try to manipulate them. Children have a level of natural curiosity that the predators exploit and pivot into sexual territory.
Sex, racism, violence, and drugs all find their way into social media feeds. Hence, parents must fine-tune content control on every app and even consider monitoring tools. In case dangerous content does slip through these filters, parents must be ready to discuss it calmly with their children.
Sharing posts to regret later
In their spontaneity and excitement, kids might not realize the long-term consequence of what they post online. Sharing personal information and images can open the door to predators and scammers. Therefore, parents need to monitor what their child posts online.
To wrap up
Social media websites are considered to be “cool” by children, and their friends very often pressure them into joining them. Social media risks are not too different from those that exist elsewhere online. The biggest danger is that these threats exist in a new environment that your child might not be familiar with. In addition to cyberbullying and grooming, your children might also be unable to protect their personal information online and fall prey to phishing scams.
Proper cyber security software and open communication are important to ensure your children stay safe online. Your kids should feel comfortable telling you if they are contacted by a stranger online or have experienced bullying on social media.