How to protect kids from cyberbullying, viruses


Norman Rozenberg/June 26, 2014 at 3:43:48 PM EDT

It's important for parents to talk to their kids about Internet safety. Credit: David Sacks

2013 study
Some whiz kids who are below age 2 are able to fully navigate touch-screen devices at surprisingly advanced levels. The use of these devices is even higher among preteens and teens, with one Pew study finding that 95 percent of American teenagers have access to the Web.

While the Internet is a great place for children to learn and socialize, it can also put them at risk for cyberbullying, scams and viruses. 

As children end the school year and have more time to use their laptops, tablets and smartphones, parents should refresh their knowledge of how to keep their kids safe on the Internet.

Educating kids about cyberbullying 
Cyberbullying can negatively affect children, and educators and parents don’t have the time or resources to monitor every single Facebook message, disappearing Snapchat photo or anonymous comment that kids send and receive.   

More than half of adolescents have experienced cyberbullying, and about the same percentage have engaged in it, according to i-Safe, a nonprofit Internet safety organization. 

The i-Safe study also found that one in three young people have received threats online, while more than half of them reportedly do not tell their parents. The first step to addressing this issue is educating parents and children.

Games can effectively teach children about Internet safety. The Federal Bureau of Investigation  created educational games for children from third to eighth grade. Teachers who assign them can monitor their students’ progress online. The games can involve activities such as adventures on desert islands and volcanoes.

A similar website has been developed for young women. Cyberbully411 offers several resources that teach young females how to recognize cyberbullying. The website also features tips for parents on how they can discuss Internet safety with their kids. 

There’s an antivirus app for that
Internet user information can be tracked, cataloged, analyzed and sold legally, or in some cases, illegally. Without realizing the consequences, children might provide their personal information to websites and assume their details are safe.

Children can also fall prey to viruses and Trojan Horses. Infected computers disseminate thousands of spam emails that can be downloaded inadvertently. Addressing these threats, Internet providers are offering sophisticated firewall settings. Many technology companies include antivirus software in their packages. Teaching children about these threats is necessary to make them less vulnerable when they browse the Internet.

Many platforms such as ContentWatch’s Net Nanny give parents greater control over their kids’ Internet habits and can provide them with piece of mind. Net Nanny lets parents set browser controls, and the company’s software bundle helps families monitor everyone’s devices. Using Net Nanny Social, parents can monitor their kids’ friends, photos and posts on social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Google+ and LinkedIn.

Education for both parents and children is key to preventing cyberbullying, viruses and scams as kids’ Internet usage increases