READ: YouTube allows you to block unwanted channels; learn it
It is the duty of those responsible to supervise the online activities of minors. Resources such as parental control programs and apps help to manage what your child can access over the Internet. It is also important to teach teenagers how to protect themselves from dangers such as malicious programs. Check the list below for some tips to minimize harm to children on the Internet.
Every day thousands of children are exposed to the dangers of the net – Photo: Pond5
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1. Surf the Internet all day
Children are most affected by one of the main negative impacts of the Internet today: excessive time in front of screens. This excess directly compromises sleep, social contact and food.
Studies show that children aged 8 to 12 spend an average of 32 hours per week online, without adult supervision. 11% of them meet the criteria for diagnosing video game addiction. The ideal time for this age group is 2 hours a day, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Both on computers and on cell phones, it is possible to monitor the time that children and adolescents spend on the Internet. Google Family Link and AppLock, for example, let you set limits on how long you can use your smartphone, in addition to locking your device at night. QualityTime shows the hours spent in each application. Nowadays, Facebook and Instagram also reveal data about the use of apps. These functions are also available natively in iPhone settings and some Android devices. In addition, control can be done on the PC and even in the settings of the home Wi-Fi router.
Internet access should be limited for children – Photo: Thássius Veloso / dnetc
2. Access prohibited platforms for minors
According to a survey by TIC Kids Online Brasil, 58% of Brazilian children aged 9 and 10 with access to the Internet claim to have a profile on some social network. Among pre-adolescents (between 11 and 12 years old), this number rises to 70%. If we consider the world average, the percentage grows even more, reaching 85%.
Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube are the most popular social networks among children aged 8 to 12 years, worldwide. However, the legal age for accessing most of these sites is 13. All of these networks have strict rules regarding their age classification, and non-compliance can result in the exclusion and loss of the account. The minimum age to access Facebook and Instagram is 12 years old. WhatsApp is 16 years old in some countries – in Brazil the app rating is free.
It is worth remembering that some sites, games and applications ask for the date of birth of their users before the first access. The ban on access to these children is very important for their physical and mental protection, since they are susceptible to online risks. Some famous sites have a separate children’s version to prevent minors from accessing adult content, for example: Netflix Kids and YouTube Kids – which does not exempt the accompaniment of a guardian when using the Internet.
Before downloading apps and games always look for the indicated age rating – Photo: Lucas Mendes / dnetc
3. Publish personal information (home address, full name, school where you study)
According to recent surveys, 260 million children around the world are subject to the dangers of the network, and the trend is that the number will reach 390 million by 2020. One of these risks occurs from the disclosure, by these minors, of their address home, the school where you study, your full name and that of your parents and also your phone numbers.
The Internet can be a dangerous place because there is no guarantee of who is on the other side of the screen. Due to the ease in creating fake accounts, social networks are the favorite stages for pedophiles and profiteers. Always advise your child to avoid making friends online with people they don’t know and also not to post their personal information or agree to meet someone they only know virtually. Another important note is to avoid posting photos in which children appear in school uniforms. After all, the T-shirt indicates where they study and facilitates the action of possible criminals.
Care must be taken not to publish a photo of children in school uniforms – Photo: Disclosure / Google
4. Participate in challenges on the Internet without the supervision of those responsible
About 55% of children and pre-teens who have access to the Internet access YouTube. The platform has a huge amount of content aimed at this age group, and among them are the so-called virtual challenges. They consist of videos that propose games and activities to be played, and reach high levels of popularity in a short time. However, these “games” are not always healthy and safe.
This is the case of the “Blue Whale” challenge, which became very popular on Facebook, in which participants had to complete 50 challenges, the last task being to commit suicide. It is estimated that the game is related to more than one hundred cases of adolescent suicide around the world.
In order to prevent children and adolescents from participating in these games, it is important that those responsible always keep an eye on the browsing history, both on the computer and on social networks. Another form of security is having access to passwords for minors’ social networks.
Online challenges can hide risks – Photo: Eduardo Manhães / dnetc
5. Shopping online without supervision
Responsible people must inspect the online purchases of children and adolescents to know the authenticity of the e-commerce portal. By entering card data on unverified and untrusted sites, users can fall for scams by stealing that information.
To avoid such a situation it is essential that you always have a guardian with the child at the time of purchase, and that you are preferably a more experienced user. You should always check the origin of the website, check if it is reliable and if the price offered matches the reality of the product to be purchased. In addition, never let minors have access to credit cards or bank details. A good tip is to configure app stores to require a password when making purchases.
The Play Store is a safe option for those who want to buy games for children – Photo: Playback / Google Play Store
Via Avast Blog and DQ Institute