By Nico Strydom
A recent survey revealed that more than 50% of children in South Africa have been the victims of cyber bullies.
“The reason for this is the increase in so-called “coupled communities” where more and more people are online, especially younger people,” says Simon Campbell-Young, cofounder of Digimune.
Digimune, a company specialising in digital risk protection, conducted a survey among 200 parents earlier this year to get their opinions and concerns about online threats to their children. They found that, inter alia, 35% of children have been the victims of cyber stalkers, 36,5% of children have been humiliated online, 43,5% of children have willingly shared their personal information on online platforms and 54% of children have accessed indecent content on digital platforms.
Parents must educate children about the online dangers. Most children have access to a wide variety of online devices. More than 30% of children already have a cell phone at the age of 10 years while many more have access to one. “It is therefore essential that you talk to your children about the internet – the good and the bad side of it,” says Campbell-Young.
Limit the time spent on the internet. During the hard lockdown people spent more time online and in certain cases parents still allow their children to be online for longer periods. Recently there have been several incidents where obscene photos or videos of children were shared on social media platforms.
“By sharing less information online, being acquainted with the warning signs, managing your digital footprint and using a monitoring instrument and removal service, parents can help to protect children against cyber bullies.”
Parents must be able to monitor their children’s digital devices, as well as the information they contain. “There are systems that can warn parents when there are dangerous or illegal contents on their children’s phones.”
The service further found that the dangers that worry parents the most, are revenge pornography, cyber bullying, access to adult or other inappropriate contents, sexual grooming and identity theft.
“To be online with access to a variety of digital instruments and platforms is essential nowadays. It is used for learning, creating, hanging out and even exercising. Unfortunately criminals use it as a weapon for wreaking havoc in our and our children’s lives,” says Campbell-Young.
Parents must protect themselves and their families by also using technology as an early-warning system against cyber criminals.