It’s finally summer! Now that kids have more free time, it’s time to reduce screen time. Beyond a practical strategy that encourages activity, screen-free practices raise awareness and educate both parents and their children on the ways in which they should safely browse and use the Internet. The summer presents the perfect opportunity to replace tech time with family activities, inspiring conversations and educational opportunities. Increasing face-to-face interactions with children creates the perfect opportunity to have conversations about cyberbullying, stalking, and even child identity theft. In this piece, we will be sharing some of the digital issues children face, multi-regional statistics, and screen-free strategies that bring families closer together!
Digital Issues Children Face
Cyberbullying- Cyberbullying can be an extension of the physical or verbal bullying that occurs in school. Online bullying can be a particularly sensitive topic to cover with children, especially if it’s happening regularly. Bullying is common, and our Internet connected devices, social media accounts, and smart phones make it harder for victims to avoid conflict and harassment. If you suspect your child is being cyberbullied, research the signs and symptoms of cyberbullying, then start a conversation with your child and their teachers.
Cyberstalking- This malicious act is used to harass, threaten, or follow a single individual online, in order to exploit them for information, money, or other acts. Gaining access through their vulnerable devices, Internet activity, or accounts, the stalker could blackmail victims and exploit them for their personal information, online-banking accounts, or adult content. Protecting your children against cyberstalking requires educating them about the dangers of sharing their personal information online, in-person, and through apps. Have this discussion regularly and make sure that devices are running with up-to-date security software to stay aware of your child’s online interactions and device security.
Child Identity Theft- Children are often targeted by cybercriminals who look to exploit the clean and often unmonitored records of youth; in many cases, these acts can go unnoticed for many years, and criminals can create an entire false identity. Their tactics include cyberbullying and stalking strategies, but guardian misuse of sensitive information is also a factor. Using the stolen or breached information, an individual can commit a variety of different crimes utilizing just one National Insurance Number, (Social Security Number in the U.S.), and are categorized as:
- Financial: Committing financial ID theft, a criminal can utilize stolen personally identifiable information to access saved finances, and fill out false applications for loans, credit cards, or bank accounts in your child’s name.
- Government and Medical: With stolen information in hand, a cybercriminal can commit tax fraud or apply for tax, medical, and insurance benefits using information stolen from a child.
- Criminal: Thieves can utilize the stolen information within their form of personal identification. For example, a fake ID containing stolen information could be presented to law enforcement and, as a result, the individual could be faced with criminal charges. In such extreme cases, the effects can be seen on a standard background check, revealing a past history of criminal warrants or charges pressed against your child’s stolen identity.
Child Identity Theft: An Issue Facing Children in the United States:
In the United States, child identity theft is becoming an increasingly popular tactic among cybercriminals. Targeting youth, thieves are utilizing the clean financial records of unsuspecting children, often going undetected for upwards of 17 years. In fact, in 2017, there were roughly 14,000 reported cases of child identity theft in the United States. Although data is limited, guardian misuse can be associated with a significant number of these cases. However, a popular and proactive security measure taken by U.S. parents looking to defend their families digital information consists of enrolling in dark web-monitoring companies, such as the one seen here, that offer personal and family identity theft protection plans.
Tips and Advice for a Screen-Free Summer:
- Cook meals together
- Go outside, explore, hike, camp in your yard
- Participate or volunteer in community events
- Set timers, wifi limiters, and cell phone usage standards
- Read, DIY projects, organization projects, chores