With cybercriminals and sexual predators turning to the internet (with British Police warning of at least 300,000 predators exploiting online platforms during lockdown), there is a lot more that we need to teach our children about how to protect themselves from stranger danger online. With the ability to create social media or gaming accounts using a fake name and profile image, these strangers find it easier than ever to target their victims and get away with it. It’s important that you teach your children about stranger danger online including everything from scammers to sexual predators. Here are some keys lessons to teach them.
1. Don’t talk to anyone they don’t know in real life
Scammers and predators will often set up fake accounts where they pose as children to build relationships and gain trust before eventually taking advantage of the child in some way. They’ll try to associate themselves with as many people in the same area or friendship group as possible to make themselves seem like a legitimate person with ties to other people the victim knows. Teach your children not to talk to anyone online that they haven’t met in real life – even if they claim to be a friend or relative of someone they know. A reliable way to ensure your child is only talking to real children rather than fraudsters is by utilising CAP’s child authentication and protection technology that uses data from schools and local authorities to verify that each child is who they claim to be online.
2. Never give out personal information
There are a number of reasons strangers may try to gain personal information from your child – either to commit identity fraud, to further phishing scams or to physically target the child at school or home. It’s crucial that personal information like your address, school, passwords and date of birth are not shared with anyone outside of your household – even close friends. If someone asks for this information, teach your children to tell you about it immediately.
3. Be careful what you share online
Alongside protecting their personal information, you should also teach your child to be careful about what else they share online as cybercriminals and sexual predators will target individuals who seem vulnerable or who they are already able to gather a lot of information about. While it’s unlikely that your child will run everything by you before sharing it online, you should aim to set some ground rules about what they can and cannot post. E.g. discourage them from publicly posting pictures and videos of themselves or posting information about how they feel where anyone can see it.
4. Tell an adult when something online makes you uncomfortable
Your child may sometimes feel uncomfortable talking about certain topics with you, but it’s important that they feel they’re able to come to you when something makes them feel uncomfortable. Teach them to tell you if someone asks them something they don’t like or if someone posts something about a topic they’re not comfortable with. Even if it’s not the act of a predator these conversations can be really important to your child’s overall development.
As the internet grows and becomes a more integrated part of everyday life, our children will be exposed to more threats. And while we can do our best to teach them about the dangers they may online, cybercriminals will keep trying to find new ways to utilise the latest social media platform or game to target their victims.
So, what’s the long-term solution?
Are we supposed to monitor everything our child does online? Should you know what’s being said in every conversation with their friends? Or should we instead be aiming to create a space for them online where we feel as confident leaving them to explore as we do when we drop them off at school?
The CAP Certified technology is designed to create a safe space where children can interact with each other through social media, keep playing games together and browse the web to learn new things – all while being protecting from scammers, predators and cyberbullies using fake accounts. If you can be sure that your child is only talking to other real children, you’d probably feel less need to monitor their online activity as closely. To learn more about the technology and CAP Certified’s mission visit www.capcertified.com.