Help your child understand the no-go areas online

Ensuring children use the internet and social media safely is not a new topic.

These very platforms regularly highlight the pitfalls and dangers and parents have been advised to help protect their children from falling prey to cyber bullying, stalking, identity theft or scams.

“The internet can be a dangerous space for anyone, but children are particularly vulnerable. Parental guidance is the best defence for youngsters in the online world,” said Charnel Hattingh from Fidelity ADT.

“In a year which has seen an unprecedented rise in the use of digital communication, due to the Covid-19 lockdown in most countries, Youth Month in South Africa is an important time to again raise the issue of online security for children.”

She said it is important for parents to know what children consume online.

“Cyber bullying is but one example of what can go wrong for children online.”

Other risk factors include:


Adults get conned online every day, even by the most ludicrous of emails, like those which state you have been left a fortune by a long-lost relative overseas. Children are not likely to fall for these types of scams, but they could be tempted by free online music or games. Criminals usually ask for credit card information in order for the child to redeem their “special offer”. Teach your children that offers which seem too good to be true usually are.

Cyber predators

Children can be stalked by someone pretending to be their age and even lured into a dangerous personal encounter. These types of predators are prevalent on social media and gaming platforms.

Downloading malware

Cyber criminals can lure children into downloading something enticing like a free game for example, which is actually harmful software (malware). Once downloaded, criminals could access personal information from the computer the child is using to steal from their parents’ bank accounts or perform other actions which could put the entire family in jeopardy.

Making private stuff public

Innocently, children could make information or photos which reveal where they live or go to school public. Personal information should stay just that – personal, for only authorised friends and family to see.

What is done is done

Children need to learn that what is put online, stays online. It is nearly impossible to erase something from the internet. A seemingly innocent Instagram post or a comment made on a friend’s status at the age of 15 could be damaging when they are applying for a job years later. Encourage them to stay out of topics and conversations they are not comfortable with, even if “everyone” is commenting and to never engage in online behaviour which can be harmful, hurtful or criminal (such as hate speech).

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