…what every child should know
Most Common Online Dangers for Children
2.1. Online Sexual Exploitation and Abuse: Sexual predators often track children on the internet through chatrooms, gaming platforms and interactive social media. Sexual predators can befriend you online by pretending to be your age, using fake profile and being overly friendly to gain your trust. This normally leads to children being lured into dangerous personal encounters both online and in real life. Part of this is sexual grooming where after gaining the child’s trust, the predator begins to introduce conversations or games of a sexual nature, sometimes involving sending of sexual texts and exchanging nude pictures (child pornography) among others. This normally leads to children being sexually exploited online or being asked to meet in real life, where they are then sexually abused, raped or sexually expoloited.
2.2. Pornography: Closely linked to the above is the unwanted introduction of pornography, also referred to a porn, to children. While children are surfing the net, playing games or other online activity, pornography could pop up to the surprise children. Equally, some children are going online to seek out pornographic material too. Pornography can have negative effects of introducing children to explicit content and activities that is inappropriate for their age. With increased exposure to porn, children can begin to experiment with sex, committing crimes such as rape or other indecent assaults. Online pornography also makes children easy targets of online sexual exploitation and abuse as explained above.
2.3. Cyberbullying: The same way sexual predators have moved to the internet to prey on children, so have bullies. Online bullying, also called cyberbullying, comes in many forms, such as sending hateful, threatening or abusive text messages or even death threats, shaming, trolling, spreading lies about the person, making nasty comments on someone’s social networking profiles, among others. A practice known as revenge or extortive pornography is also a severe form of cyberbullying. This is when a person who has had access to one’s private images or nude pictures, posts these images online as an act of revenge. Images can also be posted as a way of forcing one to do something that they do not want to do. Cyberbullying causes just as much damage as any other form of bullying to its victims, if not more.
2.4. Online Scams/Fraud: While online scams are popular among adults, children too are becoming targets of scams that offer things they value on sites popular with children. Common scams include emails claiming you have won large sums of money and requesting payments to receive said “winnings”. With online scams or fraud, children may lose money and other valuables. Often scams lure children to disclose their private information which facilitates the fraud. Identify theft also falls into this category of online scams.
2.5. Inappropriate Online Gaming: With the online space flooded with games that children can access and play, some of the games teach and socialise children on certain undesirable habits such as gambling, stealing or sheer violence on others. While children may be playing the games innocently while they are young, with continued exposure they become experts in these inappropriate habits and as they grow older, they may graduate to doing these in real life, to the detriment of society.
2.6. Posts that Come Back to Haunt a Child Later in Life: The internet does not have a “Delete” key such that things posted online, stay online forever. The internet never forgets. While it was fine and fun to put a certain picture or message online when one is still young however life and circumstances change. Later in life a a an adult, one may not want to be known or appear to have been associated with such a picture or views. Unfortunately once online, there is a possibility that it will remain there and can be seen later, causing problems to social relationships later in life or even harm career prospects for the child when they become an adult. Online posts can become a source of regret if not worse when the child becomes an adult. It is always important to watch out for the digital footprints one imprints on the internet.
2.7. Internet Addiction: Like addiction to drugs and alcohol, internet addiction is uncontrollable internet usage by a child. This is when one spends most of their time on the internet than with face-to-face interactions. Internet addicts sacrifice needed hours of sleep to spend time online and withdraw from family and friends as they escape into the online world.. Signs of internet addiction include;
¨ losing track of time while online
¨ sacrificing needed hours of sleep to spend time online;
¨ becoming angry when online time is interrupted;
¨ becoming unhappy if not allowed access to the internet;
¨ spending time online in place of homework or chores;
¨ preferring to spend time online rather than with friends or family;
¨ disobeying time limits that have been set for internet usage.
becoming irritable, moody or depressed when not online,
Internet addiction destroys normal social relationships of a child with others and can distort a child from the real life. It interferes with normal development of a child and interrupts expected developmental stages such as schooling, playing outdoors and general face-to-face interaction, all of which are crucial for a normal life of a child. Internet addiction also exposes the child to undesirable content and makes them more vulnerable to online predators for sexual exploitation, abuse and cyberbullying among others.
You can also report videos of online sexual abuse of children to be taken down on this online portal: