Quickly chatting with friends on the way to school, watching videos during recess, and uploading the latest photos to social networks at home. Almost all children (98%) are already able to use the Internet at home and on the move.
Digital safety for children is playing an increasingly important role, because even elementary school students often own their own smartphones. From preschool age at the latest, youngsters take their own first steps on the Internet. From around twelve years of age, almost all children (94 %) use online services. The most popular activities (at least once a week) include researching via a search engine (65 %), writing messages via messenger services (62 %) and watching videos (56 %). The Internet thus shapes the lives of children and young people from an early age. That’s why it’s advisable – as with all educational topics – to address the issue of “safe Internet use.”
Most people initially associate risks and dangers for children on the Internet with content that is considered harmful to minors. This includes online games that glorify violence or videos with pornographic images. Special child protection programs help protect children from unsuitable content. But not everything can be regulated by technology: In forums and chat programs, people can hide their true identity.
Particularly risky are those contacts that tempt children to reveal their personal data, such as name or address. It is therefore important to give young Internet users some orientation about what can happen to them and how they should react.
At the same time, they are also exposed to all the risks on the Internet that threaten everyone there. These include, for example, malware that can infect the computer and cause great damage, such as tapping passwords, encrypting data or making the computer part of a botnet. That’s why parents should take steps together with their children at an early stage to protect themselves.
Stay in the loop, set up parental controls
What problems in the online world should parents talk about with their children? What should they pay attention to? A guide for parent-child discussions on the topic of “Safe on the Internet” (incl. video) provides orientation.
Smart devices in the school bag – but safe!
Security begins with the purchase of Internet-enabled devices. That’s why parents or gift-giving relatives and friends should check carefully when making a purchase whether the devices in question can be set and protected in a way that is suitable for children. For example, ask whether updates will also be made available for the devices in the future – these updates are essential for basic protection because they close security gaps.
After purchase, you should set up the device accordingly. An equally important aspect is that your child should be able to make his or her own decisions: Therefore, make them aware of the risks online and strengthen their ability to take care of themselves.