One thing I’ve always been passionate about is helping parents keep their children safe online. In 2016, driven by my passion, I developed Internet Safety University to help parents protect their kids online. As kids prepare for school, I’d like to remind parents that back-to-school requires parents to be even more vigilant.
Reports vary, but our children are spending 44 hours a week online, mostly on their handheld devices. Furthermore, the bulk of these hours occurs late at night, when the family is sleeping. Technology has many benefits, but there is a dark side. Kids are opening themselves to predators, drug dealers, and sextortionists—all happening right under their parents’ noses.
Most of the time, our kids don’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late. For example, a sextortion scam that ended in the suicide of a 17-year-old high school senior, Ryan Last. A person posing as a girl engaged the California resident in an online conversation and exchanged nude pictures, leading to a demand for money. Before the California teen realized it, it was too late.
Watch out for direct messages
The Ryan Last sextortion case began with a direct message or DMs. Platforms that use DMs make it easier for predators to start first contact. These predators make up stories and find a vulnerable connection.
Back-to-school requires parents to be even more vigilant and educate their children to not accept friend requests from people they don’t know. The danger in accepting friend requests is that the “new” friend may access online photo albums, read personal comments, and copy and paste any information shared previously.
Don’t leave a digital trail
The information in your children’s posts can make it easier for someone to figure out where they live, their age, and an idea of their routine. For example, posting about going to see a movie, a party, or telling people your family will be on vacation could leave the family home open to theft. It’s like leaving a trail of digital breadcrumbs. Parents can discourage locational posting.
More guidelines for parental supervision:
- Spend time online with your children and explore appropriate online behaviour.
- Keep the computer in a common area where you can watch and monitor its use.
- Monitor any time spent on smartphones or tablets.
- Bookmark your children’s favourite sites for easy access.
- Check your credit card and phone bills for unfamiliar account charges.
- Ask about supervision at your child’s school, after-school center, at friends’ homes that may be without supervision.
- Take your child seriously if they report an uncomfortable online exchange.
Internet Safety University
To understand how cybercriminals are preying on you, and what you can do to prevent them from making you and your children their next victim, sign up for a free masterclass at Internet Safety University on how to hack-proof your online data, reputation, and identity from predators. Also, you can begin educating your family by downloading our new mobile app, FRAUDSTER, available on Apple and Android. Help us protect you. Learn more at www.FraudsterApp.com