Family safety is a priority for every parent, but the dangers posed by internet access to kids may be hard to comprehend. Without a doubt, the internet has brought with it a lot of advantages from access to information, creating an entertainment and communication platform for kids. Research shows that one in every four teens is online all the time, sharing photos and videos on social networking sites.
While the internet is loaded with a lot of educational information, it also had dozens of questionable materials. Pornography has, over the years, become acceptable and easily and freely accessible. Estimates show that over 40 million people visit pornographic sites regularly with 200,000 addicted.
Kids can intentionally or accidentally get exposed to porn with a simple click. Older kids, especially teens, have formed a habit of sexting, which is a form of soft porn. Teens exchange nudes with their romantic partners or post sexually suggestive messages. A report by the National Campaign has revealed that at least 22% or teen girls and 18% of teen boys have sent complete nudes or semi-nudes to their partners. They do it out of peer pressure, as a joke, or to make themselves feel sexy.
The fact that children can simply close a tab, use incognito, or delete a nude encourages them to watch and share pornographic material. One in every ten kids under ten years has watched porn, with 18% of online porn consumers being kids under 18 years.
The effects of this exposure are detrimental. Kids are usually unprepared to comprehend this kind of information which frightens and confuses them. Their bodies act instinctively and become aroused confusing kids that they like what they see. Kids also become de-sensitized and act out sexual scenes with other kids or engage in other high-risk sexual behaviors. Unlike adults, kids who are exposed to porn suffer low self-esteem, easily fall into depression, and develop anxiety.
Pornography is not the only thing you need to be cautious about. In 2014, BBC released a report stating that 18% of parents who allowed their kids to use their phones or tablet unsupervised to access the internet lost valuable data or money. Kids may not know how to differentiate between a genuine app purchase and one that wants to get a hold of their parent’s credit card information, phone number, and home address.
Identity theft is a serious issue we face today, but reports indicate that kids are less likely to worry about identity theft, damaged reputation, legal issues, predators, and conflict that result from online use. Research shows that 92% of teens share their full name and photos, 71% share their school, 20% share their cell phone numbers, and 16% automatically share their location. This is the exact information a dangerous app needs to steal your child’s identity.
Besides identity theft, kids may access apps that teach them how to commit crimes, suicide, and other high-risk behavior that could lead to death, low self-worth, and legal issues.
To protect your child, you need to influence their behavior and attitude through digital monitoring, such as parental control apps and guidance. Talk to your kids about the dangers that lurk on the internet. This education will help them make responsible decisions when confronted with dangerous online situations.