The online world has become a dangerous neighbourhood for everyone, but high schoolers who are more technology savvy than the average adult, and are especially vulnerable.
This is largely because we tend to make the mistake of thinking that children and teenagers will only use their devices for video games and to chat with their friends. The reality is that young people use technology for learning, experimenting, as well as for entertainment purposes.
This means that there are a variety of ways in which they are exposed – and vulnerable to cyber criminals who would want to steal their information or worse.
How Your Teens Are Vulnerable
There are many different ways in which your teens are vulnerable to cyber attacks and in our opinion, forewarned is forearmed. With that in mind, here are the five main online threats that your teenagers could face online.
- Cyberbullying. Social media and online games provide a virtual playground in which children can be ridiculed and subject to continued humiliation and threats of violence.
- Phishing and smishing. Kids find it hard to detect these kinds of scams, especially when it’s a friendly text message saying, “Hey, thought you might like this!” (Phishing is primarily done through emails whilst smishing is when a text message is received from what seems to be a reputable company asking for private information like passwords, usually also with a link off to a site that looks legitimate)
- Cyber predators. Sexual (and other) predators have found it easier to stalk children online, taking advantage of their innocence and hiding behind a screen to abuse their trust.
- Getting too private in public. Most teens don’t have a good understanding of social boundaries and could post personally identifiable information that puts their physical safety at risk or post personally sensitive information on social media that could come back to haunt them later on in life.
- Maddening malware. Cybercriminals have found success in tricking children to download malware masquerading as games, which doesn’t only put their online safety at risk but could also expose you and your sensitive information.
A personal story
Unfortunately we all either have a personal story of being caught out ourselves or know of someone close to us that fell victim to some sort of online scam.
A close friend’s son received a text message from the post office saying that he was required to pay a certain amount to release a package.
The message looked legitimate and the link too.
He clicked on the link, went through to the site and filled in his bank details.
Thinking nothing of it, until an hour later he received a notification that 1000 pounds had been withdrawn from his account!
This boy had been saving for the last 3-4 years, working very hard at a Pizza Hut to build up his savings which now had a large chunk removed.
The bank is aware of the situation but weeks later little has been done. Now you could argue that he should not have clicked on the link and filled in his details, however there would have been a number of these transactions all at the same time and one would think that the bank would be able to close that specific transaction down.
Another factor to consider was that he was using an android phone. This type of phone is 400 x more likely to be compromised than an i-phone. Now we are not saying that there is anything inherently bad about the android phone, it just gives you more access than an i-phone would, opening you up to more risk.
The fact that he was able to click on the link, go to the website and fill in all his details without there being any sort of warning would indicate that possibly android has a little way to go in terms of security.
What You Can Do
There are several things that you can do to walk your children through the dangers of being active online and while we will list them below, we want to talk about the main solution… which is to have open and honest conversations with your children about what it means to have access to the Internet. In terms that they can understand, obviously.
Talk to them about the fact that there are cybercriminals out there who are looking for vulnerable targets to attack and steal information from. To defeat these criminals, you and your teenagers must keep their devices and information secure, and behave appropriately on social media and shared devices.
Here are some ways that you can teach your teens to protect themselves online.
- Keep screens where you can see them, so far as possible.
- Know how to use parental controls and search restrictions to block dangerous sites.
- Know who your children’s online friends are, because young people can be naïve about who they’re chatting to.
- Teach your children how to be ‘share aware’ in order to protect their (and your) privacy.
- Teach your children to keep their location private.
- Track their online time and help them be intentional with their screen time.
- Teach them how to use password protections.
- Advise your children on how to be #socialnetworksavvy so that they can put on the right privacy settings and know how to report inappropriate or offensive posts, block someone, and keep their information private.
- Forward suspicious text messages to 7726, which would spell out spam on your keypad and then deleted the original message
- Have software on their phones to help act as protection for example Sophos intercept x can be installed
- Install a free application 126.96.36.199 which also makes you internet safer
At the end of the day, you don’t want to instill fear in your teenager. You also don’t want to stop them from experiencing the many educational, entertaining, social, and other benefits that the digital world offers. Instead, like most parents, you want to equip them with the skills and knowledge that they’ll need in order to know how to make the most of it and avoid the dangers.
If you’re interested in exploring how to protect your family from the threat of cyber attacks, then chat to us. Our consultants are fully aware of the dangers that the online world can bring to families and are equipped to help you implement the right solution for your family and their devices.
Connect with us today.