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Internet Safety for Kids: The Definitive Guide

Updated: Feb 8

Reposted by permission from AntivirusGuide. Get the entire guide here.

The Covid-19 pandemic has caused kids to become even more glued to their screens. Children spend more time online now than ever, which has led to an increase in a variety of problems, including cyberbullying, online predators, and inappropriate content — the top three online dangers.

More than a third of kids aged 12 to 17 have experienced cyberbullying. Furthermore, there have been almost 30 million reports of child sexual exploitation in 2021, up 35% compared to 2020.

So, how can you protect your children from these terrible situations? For starters, you can read this guide. We’ll cover everything you need to know, including topics such as:

  • The top online safety threats for kids

  • How to deal with cyberbullying

  • How to deal with sexual predators

  • Using social media safely

  • And much more…

Let’s begin.

How much time do children and teens spend on the Internet?

Most children and teenagers spend a lot of time online via their phones, computers, gaming consoles, etc. They use the Internet for school, entertainment (video streaming, listening to music, playing games, etc.), and staying connected with their friends and family.

According to a report from the Pew Research Center, approximately 95% of teens use phones; 45% of teens reported their Internet use was almost constant.

Furthermore, according to The Center for Parenting Education, kids and teens aged 8 to 28 spent 6.35 hours per day in front of digital screens before the Covid-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus pandemic has increased the amount of time American teens spend online. Throughout the pandemic, kids spent over seven hours a day on digital technology.

online safety

Online places where kids can be at risk

Unfortunately, there are plenty of online places kids and teens frequent where they are at risk, including:

Chat rooms: Many kids still use chat rooms to communicate with friends and strangers in real-time. According to recent studies, one in five teenagers who enter chat rooms falls victim to bullying.

Online games: Most kids play video or computer games, and many of these games are online. Some strangers they encounter while playing can be dangerous.

Social networking sites: Nearly all teenagers use social media, whether it's Instagram, YouTube, or TikTok. Because so many kids and teens are on these platforms, predators and other nefarious actors take advantage of these apps.

Instant messaging apps: Apps like WhatsApp, Messenger, or Messages for iOS have billions of users worldwide, attracting kids and those who wish to harm them.

Email: Although kids and teens do not use it as often as IM apps, email is still a popular communication medium that predators use to target kids through malicious email attachments and phishing.

Software download sites: Many software download sites or sources are unsafe. Kids who interact with these sites can be exposed to adware, spyware, or trojans, allowing predators to spy on them.

File-sharing networks: Online piracy is still an everyday occurrence. Kids who want to download pirated games or movies use pirate networks and P2P file-sharing clients like uTorrent or BitTorrent. Many pirated files contain malware.

There are plenty of online places kids and teens frequent where they are at risk.

Top online threats for kids and teens

The following are the most common and dangerous online safety threats for kids.

Cyberbullying — Cyberbullying is a type of online harassment that can take many forms, such as name-calling, spreading rumors, or sending threatening messages. It can be just as harmful as physical bullying and, in some cases, worse.

Sexual predators — An online sexual predator is someone who uses the Internet to pursue sexual relationships with minors. These people can be strangers or someone the child knows personally.

Dangerous or inappropriate websites — Many websites feature dangerous or inappropriate content for children, including pornography, violence, and other harmful content.

Cyberbullying, online predators, and inappropriate content are the top three online dangers for kids.


How can I protect my children from cyberbullying?

According to a report from the Pew Research Center, 59% of U.S. teens have experienced cyberbullying. Check out how to keep kids safe from online bullies and what to do if your child is bullying others.

Here are some tips to prevent your kids from being cyberbullied:

Set these ground rules with your children to protect them from online bullying:

  1. Make sure your child has a strong sense of self-esteem. Kids who experience cyberbullying are more likely to be targeted if they are insecure or have low self-esteem.

  2. Promote body positivity. Teach your children that all bodies are beautiful and that they should be proud of their shape. This will boost their self-esteem, protecting them from negative influences online.

  3. Help your child build positive relationships with their friends and classmates. Kids with supportive friendships are less likely to be bullied on and offline.

  4. Monitor your child's Internet use. Keep an eye on their social media profiles, including who they talk to online.

  5. Teach your children how to defend themselves. Kids need to know how to protect themselves and be assertive in the face of bullies.

  6. Tell them not to respond to harassment. The National Center on Missing and Exploited Children recommend teaching your children not to respond to cyberbullies.

What can I do if my child is a victim of cyberbullying?

If you think your child is experiencing cyberbullying, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Encourage your child to speak up. It's important to let them know they can come to you with any problem, big or small.

  2. Talk to your child about what's going on. Having an open and honest conversation with your child about their experiences is essential.

  3. Report the bullying to the service or platform where it's occuring. Many social media platforms and websites feature reporting tools that you can use to report bullying.

  4. Save evidence of bullying, including screenshots and messages. According to The National Center on Missing and Exploited Children, this can be helpful if you decide to take legal action.

  5. Contact law enforcement. In some cases, cyberbullying may be a crime. You can contact law enforcement if you think your child is in danger.

What to do if your child is cyberbullying others:

If your child is bullying someone online, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Talk to your child about their behavior. Having a conversation with your child about why their behavior is wrong and how it can hurt others is essential.