Opinion

As parents, we want to know our kids are safe – but the online world is harder to control than the real one.

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by Tosin Akin-Ogundeji

Today one in four people in the world is a child. In Nigeria, children under the age of 18 make up an estimated 52.44%
of the population. By nature, they are also the most drawn to the internet, and will lead the digital transformation. They
are also the most at risk to bullying and harassment.

Here are the most important things to be aware of when it comes keeping your children safe online.

Cyber bullying One of the biggest forms of online harassment for children
is cyber bullying. The online world presents the ideal platform for bullies to harass their victims. They’re no longer
confined to the playground, but can partake in round-the- clock attacks via email, social media and instant
messaging. Recent statistics show that 52% of young people report being cyber bullied. Worryingly, more than half
of young people surveyed said they never confide in their parents when they are bullied.

This means it is up to parents, to be aware of potentially cruel or risky behaviour taking place online by monitoring your children’s online activities, as well as offline behaviour
that may signify a child as a victim. It’s also important to teach children not to text or post anything online that would
hurt or embarrass anyone else, or compromise themselves – 49% of youth have regretted something they have posted online. In this case, awareness and prevention is better than
cure.

Malware and other online threats
It’s also important to be aware of the other threats being online can pose. These include malware and viruses that
children could inadvertently stumble upon while online.

Criminals work relentlessly to seize control of digital devices, compromise email and text messages or spy on
online activities in an attempt to steal one’s identity or financial information. Children are particularly susceptible to
these attacks because they can be lured with offers of free downloads or click on links without understanding the risk
of exposure to viruses and scams.
One way to lessen this threat is to educate children to be careful about the information they share online and protect their passwords. Teach them to think carefully about the connections they accept on social media and think before clicking on links or downloading content.

This is also useful to ensure they are only exposed to content appropriate for
their age or maturity.

Beyond education, it’s a good idea to consider filtering software, keep software up to date and be the administrator of home computers. Services such as Windows 10 Family
Features also allow individuals to manage their family’s digital life across Windows PCs, Xbox and mobile devices.

The service gives the option to restrict the amount of hours children spend online, and one can add money to Microsoft accounts rather than allowing others to share credit card details for purchases.

Balancing the pros and cons of the online world As a parent in the digital age, it is important to allow children to enjoy the limitless information and opportunities that exist online, while not forgetting that it comes at a risk.
The most effective way to do this is to make online safety a family effort, and combine guidance with monitoring of
online activities.

By understanding the risks of the internet yourself, you are in a better position to help your children develop the skills and ethics they need to deal with situations, information
and people on the web.

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