With the opening of classes in the Philippines, cybersecurity solutions provider Kaspersky is cautioning parents about the online dangers that children may be highly vulnerable to, especially as they increasingly use the internet for school work.
Citing a blog post by Lance Spitzner of the SANS Institute, Kaspersky highlights the following major online threats to children:
• Strangers: sexual predators, sextortion, fraud;
• Friends: cyberbullying, pranks, sextortion, poor examples; and
• Self: oversharing, sexting, bullying, downloading/sharing illegal content
Kaspersky also references data from the “2022 Disrupting Harm” study conducted by UNICEF, ECPAT International, and Interpol, which reveals that approximately 20% (or an estimated 2 million) of Filipino children aged 12-17 have experienced online sexual abuse and exploitation. Recent national data further shows that half of Filipino children aged 13-17 are affected by cyber violence.
“It used to be that when it’s school time, parents worried the most about their children’s report cards,” said Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for Southeast Asia at Kaspersky. “Not anymore. Filipino parents, just like their counterparts elsewhere in the world, are now raising hyper-connected children, and their other current, big concern today includes their child being targeted by cybercriminals.”
A Kaspersky report reveals that Generation Z, those aged between 11 and 26, tend to overshare online, believing they have a good grasp of online security but are actually highly susceptible to scams. About 55% of those surveyed admitted to sharing personal information on social media channels, such as their name, date of birth, and location. A majority (72%) were unable to identify phishing scams, and 26% confessed to falling victim to such scams.
Kaspersky offers the following tips for parents:
• Regular Communication
Have daily discussions with your children about their day, including their online activities. Encourage them to share both positive and negative online experiences. This normalizes conversations about internet protection and fosters a cyber-smart approach to safety.
• Educate Yourself and Your Children
Understand the cyberworld to discuss it with your kids with confidence and authority. Stay informed about emerging trends, games, and online platforms that could affect your child’s online activity. Discuss technology and potential dangers with them.
• Open and Comfortable Atmosphere
Create an environment where your children feel comfortable sharing anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, threatened, or unhappy online. Encourage them to talk to a trusted adult, preferably you, if they receive threatening or inappropriate messages.
• Set Boundaries
Establish clear, age-appropriate rules for acceptable online behavior. Explain the reasons behind these rules and make your children aware of the consequences of violating them. For example, emphasize the permanence of online content.
• Use Parental Control Software
Utilize reliable parental control software to define acceptable online parameters, including screen time limits and content restrictions. Customize filters for different children based on their age and needs.
• Seek Assistance
Parenting doesn’t come with a manual, and mistakes are part of the process. Find a parenting style that works for your family, and don’t hesitate to seek help if a situation seems to be spiraling out of control. Local law enforcement can be a valuable ally in extreme cases.
By following these guidelines, parents can better protect their children from the myriad online dangers they may encounter while pursuing their education and social interactions on the internet.