Growing up in an averagely strict household at the dawn of social media, I remember being monitored as I sat on the internet, tempted to log on to the new and upcoming social networking sites (SNS) but being dissuaded from them. But the biggest threat I ever faced was receiving emails from an unknown email address known as “Prince Charming.” He would occasionally send me a joke or two that were entertaining enough to keep me curious and not send him to the spam folder. But that was till the emails started getting vulgar. At the age of 12, I had learned first-hand about the presence of predators on the glorious world wide web!
Statistics show that "93% of teens (12-17) go online," and "73% of teens (12-17) have cell phones." Both the extent of access to the internet and the intensity of usage are rising at an alarming pace. And the dangers on the internet today are not just limited to lying about one’s identity in an email - there are darker corners that lurk behind simple looking html pages, from a simple fake identity on a chat room to serious crimes such as phishing and child pornography.
So, let’s try and list out a few of the most common threats that your tween/ teen might be facing out there, that you need to watch out for.
Underage Social Networking. Most social networks only permit users if they are adults, i.e above 18. Sites like Facebook accept members above 13 years. But all it takes is to simply enter a different date of birth - there is no way that age can be checked online. And more often than not, curious - and rebellious - kids lie on these pages and create profiles exposing themselves to a world of unknown perils. The constant need to update applications like Instagram and Snapchat allow the world to peek into our lives more closely than we’d want them to. Snapchat recently added a feature that now allows people to view where you are on the map. Falling into the wrong hands, this feature can seriously be misused by predators who thanks to these applications now know where the child is, where he/ she has been, who are his/ her acquaintances and so much more.
Gaming: The first thing that comes out of today’s online gaming has to be the extent of violence and sexual objectification that takes place during them. One of the most common games, Grand Theft Auto has children running around the streets driving over people and killing them, while scantily dressed escorts roam the streets and interact with the character every now and then. For someone above 18 who already knows what choices to make in life, this game might still be acceptable, but for someone below that who is still in their cognitive process of growing up? No.
The second aspect of online gaming is security. Gaming sites allow the user to create a username and play while interacting with others who are playing the game simultaneousl