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5 Internet Safety Tips for Parents by “Erudito Licėjus” IT teacher Josiah Tan

The internet, a source containing a wealth of information is an entirely new world that is uncontrolled, stimulating and intriguing to people of all ages. It is a world that is outside the confines of your own homes and unrestricted. Hence, it is crucial that parents are aware of their children’s internet usage and impose restrictions to facilitate a healthy development of their children. “Erudito Licėjus” IT teacher and specialist in Information Systems and Cyber Security Josiah Tan shares a few tips for parents regarding the internet safety. These tips are practical and useful in providing a safe environment for your children.

Social Influence. In the recent years, children have been exposed to content from different ‘internet personalities’ from all around the world. The term ‘TikTok Generation’ comprises of millennials that are heavily influenced by the content they watch on the internet. This can be dangerous because when a children finds a celebrity/influencer that they admire, coupled with commendation from the internet community, could influence them to change their personalities and ethical behavior in their day to day lives. They might also feel inclined to buy material things to impress or associate with people around them. Therefore, parents are recommended to be involved in what their children are doing on the internet. Casually asking them about whether they watched something interesting recently, or what their favorite thing to do on their devices will provide parents with the general idea on what they are exposed to.

Social Networking. Social networking is the use of internet-based sites to network and contact friends, family, colleagues and more. Children nowadays are very proficient in using these applications to network with their fellow friends. However, these friends are not limited to their school, or neighbors. Many children playing multiplayer games online such as Roblox, Minecraft, GTA tend to come across other strangers. This exposes children to potential child-grooming. According to Wikipedia, child-grooming is the act of a stranger befriending and establishing an emotional connection with the child. Acts of gifting them in-game gifts, spending a lot of time with them, could eventually gain their trust which could lead to harmful outcomes. Therefore, parents should be aware of whom their children are in contact with, both online and physically.

Cyberbullying is also present almost everywhere on the internet especially towards children approaching teenage years. Their peers might leave hurtful comments towards them, that can ruin their self-esteem and confidence. A child needs to know that their parents are their refuge during times when they are hurt. They need to have someone that they can fall back to during times of emotional pain and loneliness. If a parent is not present for them, they would end up resorting to other means to alleviate their sadness.

Microtransaction/Online Purchases. Cases of children stealing their parents’ credit card to make purchases are increasingly common, especially during the pandemic era when children spent most of their time at home. A large majority of mobile applications and computer games commonly include ‘microtransactions’ that range from 0,99€ to 14,99€. These small payments can add up and become a liability to parents. Talking to your children about the importance of managing finances is crucial to the development of a child towards their future. Money management skill at an early age can greatly impact them when they grow older. One fun way to teach them about the value of money is to give them challenges or tasks to achieve and reward them with pocket money. They can then decide to either spend it immediately or to put it towards their savings.

Identifying scams. With the current pandemic, the number of internet users from all age groups has increased significantly. The more the number of users, the higher the chances are for scammers to find victims to fall for their deceit. Children should be educated on how to determine the legitimacy of links, offers and messages online. One way to identify a phishing scam is to always pay attention to the email address of the sender. Scammers commonly use email addresses that are similar to the company that they are impersonating. (e.g: support@help.facebo0k.com) with similar email design.

We also invite you to watch the lyceum psychologists webinar “Information Technologies: Threats and Opportunities”: https://youtu.be/JJ4VAsWbqRM

Learn more about internet safety:
https://www.commonsensemedia.org/privacy-and-internet-safety
https://www.connectsafely.org/
https://www.kidshealth.org/en/parents/cyberbullying.html