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A few days back, we carried out a survey on our WhatsApp contacts and this revealed that at least 6 out of 10 people have an element of their personal lives (children`s names, own name or significant other`s details) in their passwords. That is a crazy 60% of the people in the survey have their lives at a major risk of being hacked and get their information stolen. We will not mention the 40% who said they use their children’s birth dates as a password.
That on its own is a pulsating time fuse. Children, with their innocence and willingness to help, are an effortless target for cyber-criminals and will play a pivotal role in assisting perpetrators achieve their goal. Kids can easily be manipulated into giving away information such as their mother`s maiden name, father`s high school name, their home address and even both their parents birth dates. In this case, the child has become an incidental participant to crime.
On average, children are 12,5 years old when they receive their first smartphone. At that age children barely understand the dangers of being on the internet.
Perpetrators find it very easy to siphon information from children because they are not on the qui vive concerning cyber-crime perpetrators. What with being given access to the internet at such tender ages. We teach our children to be careful of strangers walking down the road and not say a single word to them but we do not tell them not accept friend requests on Facebook, not to follow or follow back that person on Twitter and on Instagram. We do not tell them never to attach their location to their pictures before clicking that post button. There is a lot that our children are not aware of concerning the internet and the caution they must exercise.
Children are not only incidental participants to crime but they (in some cases) are the perpetrators of cyber-crime. With a staggering 43% of children being bullied online and 1 in 4 having being bullied more than once online, it is not a topic that we can ignore any longer. What’s worse is it isn’t adults doing this bullying. It’s classmates, school mates bullying their peers. Most of this bullying is done by other children. High schools have become a survival of the fittest type of establishment were its either you bully or you get bullied. Finding yourself trashed all over social media with demeaning captions has become the norm in the millennial`s life. Point number 10 in this article states that 71% of students have admitted to visiting a site just to bash another student! (insert shocked and sad emoji). Could your child be among the 71%? Is your child contributing to the 2 to 9 times more likely to commit suicide because of bullying statistic?
Did you know? Bullying and depression go hand in glove. Bullying can cause your child to have social anxiety and esteem problems that will stick with them way into adulthood. Some of the risks children face online as victims are:
- Sexual solicitation
- Exposure to problematic and illegal content
Sexual abuse online is easier to perpetrate compared with physical abuse and is not freely recognizable. It starts as a subtle comment on certain parts of our children’s bodies and it escalates to nude photos being shared. The child can eventually be lured into performing sexual acts and find themselves on a p*rn site without their consent. Most children that are on p*rn sites will not have given their consent. Maybe it’s better to say this a bit louder: MINORS ON P*RN SITES WILL NOT HAVE GIVEN THEIR CONSENT FOR THAT MATERIAL TO BE SHARED!
Tariro Chagwiza is a Deep Learning Engineer at Intlikit and Machine Learning Enthusiast. You can read some of Tariro’s other posts on Medium.