Research by Kaspersky Lab reveals that the increasing threats facing children online are now having a detrimental effect, with almost half (49%) of 10-15 year olds in the UK admitting they are scared or worried about going online.
From the collection of personal data by connected devices, including children’s toys, to grooming on gaming platforms such as Minecraft, it’s no surprise that children are becoming afraid of what they may encounter online – but what can be done to rebuild their confidence? Kaspersky Lab urges parents, teachers and the industry to work together to create a safe environment for children, so they can learn and thrive online, as opposed to being scared or worried to connect to the internet altogether.
According to the survey, specifically, over one in five (21%) of children worry that a stranger might bully them; 18% worry that a stranger might ask them to do something they’d be uncomfortable with; 13% worry a stranger might ask them to do something illegal; and one in ten (10%) worry that strangers would still have access to information they have posted online even after they have deleted it.
In addition, the children surveyed are also conscious that their own activities online may cause worry among peers, with over a third (36%) admitting that they have previously regretted posting something online because it may have negatively affected a friend or someone else.
The benefits of children being online and connected are numerous, so it’s easy to forget that children and young people are inherently vulnerable - David Emm, principal security researcher, Kaspersky Lab
“The benefits of children being online and connected are numerous, so it’s easy to forget that children and young people are inherently vulnerable and may expose themselves to danger, whether knowingly or unknowingly, when using the internet and connected devices,” says David Emm, principal security researcher, Kaspersky Lab.
“It is the combined duty of care of the security industry, government, teachers and parents, to mitigate the risks and provide children with a safe, secure online environment where they can work, rest and play.”
International online child protection expert, David Miles says that the Internet an be empowering for children if they have the right support
“As the internet increasingly becomes the medium of choice for children and young people, this important research demonstrates the need to ensure they have the right technology tools and guidance to make safe choices online,” adds David Miles, international online child protection expert and member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) Evidence Group.
Given the right support, children feel incredibly empowered by what they find online. We all have a collective responsibility to minimise the risks and maximise the benefits for this new digital generation - David Miles, international online child protection expert
“Given the right support, children feel incredibly empowered by what they find online. Whether it’s to socialise, learn or play, we all have a collective responsibility to minimise the risks and maximise the benefits for this new digital generation.”
Top tips for keeping kids safe online:
• Talk to them about the potential dangers – Parents may feel that teaching young children about online dangers is a minefield, however it may help to remember that the same dangers and advice apply when using the internet as they do in the real world.
• Encourage them to talk to you about their online experience and, in particular, anything that makes them feel uncomfortable or threatened.
• Set clear ground-rules about what they can and can't do online and explain why you have put them in place. You should review these as your child gets older.
• Use parental control software to establish the framework for what's acceptable - how much time (and when) they can spend online, what content should be blocked, what types of activity should be blocked (chat rooms, forums, etc.). Parental control filters can be configured for different computer profiles, allowing you to customise the filters for different children.
• Don't forget to make use of settings provided by your ISP, device manufacturer and mobile phone network provider. e.g. most phones allow you to prevent in-app purchases, so you can avoid them running up hefty bills when they play games.
• Protect the computer using internet security software – Most good Internet security products now include a parental control module that lets parents put a protective barrier around your children - reducing the risks they're exposed to online.
• Don't forget their smartphone or tablet - these are also sophisticated computers. Most mobile devices come with parental controls and security software providers may offer apps to filter out inappropriate content, senders of nuisance SMS messages, etc.