5 Common Threats to Children on Social Media

Parents of children who are old enough to use cell phones often have concerns about what they are exposed to on social media. Their concerns are certainly legitimate as their children do face potential threats online, from being targeted by online predators to having their identities stolen. These threats are real and parents often battle to know what to do to protect their children.

Simply banning children from being on social media is not an effective approach. They are likely to find opportunities to go on social media in secret, which is more dangerous for them. Here are some ways for parents to deal with common threats.    

1. Online predators

Unfortunately, too many predators find social media the perfect way to make connections with unsuspecting children. Conversations online may initially seem innocent and the process of gaining a child’s trust can be a long process. 

Predators often lie about their age and use a child’s interests like music or a favorite sports team to form a relationship. Once the relationship is established, predators can start to manipulate and control behavior. 

Parents can install the SpyFone mobile tracker on a child’s phone and keep track of a child 24/7 via a control panel. The parent will know who the child is talking to and get access to telephone numbers of callers. The tracker also has a panic button a child can use. 

2. Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is a significant problem as it can happen anonymously with no repercussions. Cyberbullies can ruin a child’s reputation and cause great emotional distress. 

StopBullying.gov is a government website dedicated to helping parents and children to deal with the problem of cyberbullying. Visiting the website offers advice on how to pick up the warning signs of cyberbullying and how to respond. 

3. Exposure to inappropriate content

Children with access to social media may be exposed to potentially harmful or sexual content. They may follow other social media users who promote the use of alcohol or drugs or promote other harmful activities, such as an obsession with dieting. Premature exposure to sexual images and lewd content can cause harm. 

Parental controls, filtering software and regular monitoring of social media usage are ways to control access to inappropriate content. 

4. Identity theft

According to AARP data, children up to the age of 18 are 35-51% more likely to be targeted for identity theft than adults. Social media scammers can use the social identity numbers of children to open bank accounts or apply for credit cards. 

Parents need to make their children aware that they should never provide any personal data on social media. If they click on a link that turns out to be a phishing site, their personal information can get into the hands of these identity thieves.  

They should know they must block and report anyone who tries to obtain personal information from them on any social media platform. 

5. Sharing inappropriate content 

When children share inappropriate content on social media platforms, it can come back to haunt them. Today, colleges, employers and institutions will look at social media accounts before accepting candidates. A racist or sexist comment may be enough for someone to be rejected when applying to a college or for a job. 

Children need to be constantly reminded by their parents that what they post on social media matters. Posting inappropriate content, such as sexual images, may not seem like such a big deal to them at the time but it can restrict their future opportunities.  

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