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1:47 AM Wed, Nov. 14th

Cyber Awareness: Children’s safety, even their lives, depend on it

Thanks to mobile devices, internet access is at an all-time high and requires users to exercise a growing amount of caution.

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Thanks to mobile devices, internet access is at an all-time high and requires users to exercise a growing amount of caution.

Instances of cyberbullying have grown alongside the popularity of the internet. Cyberbullies tease and taunt through email, social media and other online modes of communication.

The internet can be an invaluable resource that has forever changed the way people live their lives. But the ever-changing internet can be a safety risk, and families must always be on guard to keep themselves safe.

The potential dangers of the internet can affect both children and adults. Here are some ways families can protect themselves and still get the most out of the web.

Set up filters

Many devices come with security features and filters that can limit access to certain content. Limits can be established based on age or even by preventing access to specific websites.

Whenever a new app is installed, parents should read through the usage information and peruse the security settings. This is especially important for social apps. Restrict who can access account information or profiles by toggling between publiC and private in the settings when applicable.

Filtering software can be used for streaming movies. ClearPlay, for example, can be set to remove certain parameters, like nudity, sexual dialogue and profanity.

Recognize cyberbullying

Instances of cyberbullying have grown alongside the popularity of the internet. Cyberbullies tease and taunt through email, social media and other online modes of communication. The organization NoBullying says that 52 percent of young people in the United Kingdom report being cyberbullied, but many will not confide in their parents when the abuse occurs. More than half of young people in North America also have experienced cyberbullying.

Cyberbullying can take many forms, including sending mean messages or threats, spreading rumors, posting hurtful messages on social media, stealing account information, sending damaging messages, and circulating sexually suggestive pictures or messages about a person.

Anyone, regardless of age, who spends time on social media can fall victim to cyberbullying. By blocking people and limiting the amount of personal information they share online, individuals can reduce the likelihood that they will be victimized by cyberbullies.

Understand digital permanence

Many people do not fully grasp that the internet creates a trail of information that never really goes away. Computer security experts warn that what goes on the internet tends to stay on the internet, even when one thinks he or she has deleted it. WhatÕs more, a person can never verify if a person has made a copy of a post or a picture and saved it.

Images, opinions and more can come back to haunt people who post them online. Stop and think before putting information online. If users might one day be uncomfortable discussing something they shared online, then they should resist the temptation to share it in the first place.

Many families rely on the internet every day. Families should always give careful consideration to the information they share online, holding back any details that might be private or put their security at risk.