People have long said that children are children the world over. They all laugh and cry, they all throw tantrums, and they all move through the same stages of human development. Over the last few years, they’ve grown to have something else in common: the smartphone.
Children of all ages all over the world have access to smartphones and tablets.
United States: 80 percent of children and teenagers ages 12-17 have a phone. About half of those have a smartphone. (2014)
United Kingdom: 90 percent of teenagers and young adults ages 16-24 have a phone. About half of those have a smartphone. ( 2015)
South Korea: 72 percent of children have gotten a smartphone by age 11 or 12. Of them, 25 percent are considered addicted, spending more than five hours per day on their devices. ( 2015)
Australia: 35 percent of children 8-11 have a mobile device. Meanwhile, 80 percent of teenagers ages 14-17 had a smartphone. (2015)
With this comes a certain measure of freedom and safety, and peace of mind for parents who like to be able to contact their children when necessary. However, children and teens who use smartphones face certain dangers and risks that parents all over the world need to be aware of.
Behavioral addictions, like gambling and internet usage, can be damaging as drug or alcohol addictions. In this CBS News article, Dr. Deepak Chopra is quoted:
“Addictive behavior means that you’re compulsively repeating that behavior at the cost of everything in your life. You can’t sleep. You miss out on relationships, social interactions, health, well-being. Any addictive behavior will cause the same damage in the brain at the receptors as a drug will do.”
Young children are not immune to this risk. Digital addiction can end up impacting their lives for years to come, affecting their school work, sleep patterns, health, relationships, and more.
Exposure to Pornography
Way back in 2003, there were already 1.3 million pornographic websites. In addition, children can be exposed to inappropriate pictures and material easily via social media and messaging apps. A curious child or teenager might search for pornography intentionally, but it’s also more common to come across it accidentally.
Unfortunately, children may also find themselves chatting with people who may solicit photos of them, which are then used to threaten or embarrass the victim, or to coerce the victim into sharing more pics or engaging in other encounters of a sexual nature. This survey was geared toward sextortion of people ages 18-25, but sadly it is a risk for people of all ages.
This is not the school bullying that you might have witnessed or experienced when you were growing up. Old-school bullying was exactly that: it happened mostly at school. It was rough, but it could usually be escaped at the end of the day.
Cyberbullying is relentless. It can continue all day, every day, via cruel messages, photos, and rumors sent by text, email or shared on social media profiles. These messages can spread quickly, and sometimes it can be hard to identify where they originated. The effects can be disastrous: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 10-14, and the second among persons aged 15-34 years. ” Also, consider this:
“Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University.”
Parents don’t always know if their children are the victims of cyberbullying.
This 2011 FBI story on child predators says that “70 percent of youngsters will accept friend requests regardless of whether they know the requester.” Unfortunately, some of those requesters are from predators:
“Pedophiles go where children are. Before the internet, that meant places such as amusement parks and zoos. Today, the virtual world makes it alarmingly simple for pedophiles-often pretending to be teens themselves-to make contact with young people.”
Some of this contact remains online, in some cases it has moved to face-to-face meetings that could result in sexual abuse or even abduction.
We can’t escape the internet, and we wouldn’t want to: it provides up-to-date information that we need for school, work, and awareness of what’s going on in the world. It connects us to our friends and family, and allows us to see and understand things we wouldn’t have an opportunity to do otherwise. This is true for children as well as adults.
However, even though the internet is here to stay, you don’t have to live with the dangers. There are steps that parents can take to protect their children and teens from the unsavory side of the online world. Trustworthy parental controls allow you to block dangerous websites, apps and even entire categories, as well as periods time.
A router at home is what many parents turn to. There are some great home routers on the market that offer website filtering and other controls. However, what was a good solution 10 or even 5 years ago, may not be so good in 2017 – why? Simple – today’s children and teens use smartphones and bypassing a home router is now a one-click option for them. They turn off WiFi on their smartphones and can then surf unrestricted over your data plan. Not only does this cost you money, it gives them complete control over internet content. Even routers that come with “Apps” can be easily bypassed and teens are smart today. So while a home “parental control” router will offer some protection for younger kids, they will not be very effective for older kids and teens. And, what is a parent to do when your children are at school, the bus, on vacation, the soccer field, or at a friend’s house? These are just a few reasons why you need complete protection that starts at the source!
Netsanity is used by parents in over 65 countries, and works on the smartphone, and not on the router, so regardless of how they get to the internet, they will be protected! An expensive router is not needed, nor required. Netsanity will establish a secure, 100% encrypted connection to the internet and the parent will be there making the important decisions on what is and what is not appropriate. We put the parent in complete control.
Also published on Medium.