What are the dangers of the Internet for children and adolescents?
Whether born in a digital age or not, almost everyone owns a device with Internet access. Its usefulness in education, training, and information encourages its active use in adults, youth, and children.
But are there potentially dangerous risks online for children? Sexting, cyberbullying, and grooming are just some of them. Protect them!
- Did you know…? In May 2019, the WHO (World Health Organization) recognized video game addiction as a disorder.
On a global scale, in January 2020, 4,540 million Internet users (59% of the world’s population) were browsing the Internet, representing an increase of 7% compared to 2019.
It is very important to ensure minors’ safety and psychological health when using the network. For this reason, we bring you six common dangers on the Internet for minors.
1. Potentially dangerous content
Giving kids and teens full access to the Internet is like sending them into a world where anything is possible. It is exposing them to huge amounts of information, videos, games, and people that can be as beneficial as they are malicious.
Children’s learning capacity is so great that it is common for many of them to dominate and use mobile phones, computers, and tablets better than their parents. For this reason, adults must supervise, in a reasoned way, the activity of minors on the network.
A very useful function is the parental control that the devices themselves have. By activating this function, we can limit, block, and prevent browsing through inappropriate or unsafe content.
Parental control is an essential barrier for children and adolescents to have an adequate and productive digital quality of life.
Children are predisposed to any information on the network. There are no filters!
2. Addition to social networks
It is not uncommon to see adolescents between the ages of 13 and 16 having an account on some type of social network. However, the boom in social networks has led to many minors starting out before their time, totally or partially unaware of what it means to have a social network.
Applications like Instagram, Tik Tok, or Snapchat are very popular, and the content they generate is very attractive to both children and teenagers, creating the so-called “Internet fads.”
This new form of socialization endangers the traditional ways of children and adolescents when it comes to creating healthy relationships with their environment. Another danger of social media is that it can cause impairment, addiction, and dependency risk.
In addition, there are more and more cases in which children talk to strangers from all over the world, including adults who, in most cases, do not have good intentions (a modality known as dating ).
3. Cyberbullying or Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is a form of harassment and aggression on the network in which others harass a person. This harassment can seriously affect the psychological health of a minor.
This type of bullying, not unlike traditional bullying, can come from the child’s own friends or classmates or even strangers. And social networks are the most common place where they occur.
Parents should supervise the content minors produce and receive from the different digital platforms and maintain an open dialogue.
Sexting is very dangerous, especially for teens who are actively using social media.
Grooming is a strategy used by an adult to gain the trust of a minor (mostly adolescents) to sexually abuse or exploit him.
These adults create and disseminate profiles with false identities that attract attention and allow interaction with a minor to achieve this.
There are two phases to this type of hazard:
- Preliminary phase: The stalker creates a relationship of trust with the minor.
- Later phase: The stalker manages to get the minor to send him sexual material by himself, through which he manipulates or blackmails him.
Sexting occurs when a minor is pressured to send photos or videos of sexual content by their partner or peers. This exchange occurs via mobile phones or the Internet (social networks, emails, etc.) and puts the minor’s privacy at risk.
Once the minors share this type of content, they are prone to harassment and blackmail by the other party.
It is also important to bear in mind that sexting is a danger that threatens the sexual health of minors. It is essential to know what is the difference between sexual abuse and sexual assault in the event that a minor or adult suffers it as part of sexting blackmail.
6. Online shopping and gambling addiction
This is a great danger for them and a headache for parents. The fact that minors have an electronic payment channel implies the reach of everything at the click of a button.
Therefore, it is very dangerous to let children handle a device on which credit card data has been saved.
In addition, today, sports betting, poker, and online gaming websites have become very popular. According to a government investigation for the National Plan on Drugs, it is estimated that more than 160,000 young people between the ages of 14 and 18 play money online. Youngsters are prone to becoming problem gamblers due to these fast betting platforms.
Sports betting is one of the biggest risks on the Internet.
Tips for parents
It is very important to talk to children and adolescents about the appropriate use they should make of the Internet. Explain to them what it can bring them and what are the risks and dangers that exist in the network.
Maintaining an open and trusting dialogue will make children and adolescents learn to face any danger that may arise on the Internet.