Are Children More Vulnerable to Online Harm During Stay at Home Orders?
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to stay-at-home orders across the nation. Non-essential businesses are closed, many professionals are working from home, and most schools have been canceled through the end of the year. Many children that are now stuck at home are turning to the internet for education, socialization, and entertainment.
School teachers are hosting remote classes, and kids are chatting with their friends over video instead of in person. But while the internet is a fantastic educational and connective resource, it can also be dangerous for young, impressionable minds. Many parents and concerned citizens have wondered if these stay-at-home orders have made children more vulnerable to online harm.
Below are three ways that children are vulnerable to online harm during the shelter-in-place order, and what you can do as guardians to help them avoid bad experiences.
- Posting something they may regret. Without face-to-face interaction, all interaction with friends and classmates has been moved online. While children can say or do something stupid in the company of trustworthy friends, that safety net disappears when their interactions are moved to the internet. Anything posted online should be assumed to be permanent. Talk to your children about thinking before they post because the things they do on the internet cannot be undone. Ask them to imagine that their parent or guardian is standing behind them the entire time they are online.
- Zoom Bombing. Zoom Bombing is the practice of joining a Zoom call through a publicly posted link and then doing something outrageous to interrupt the call or meeting. Zoom Bombers have shouted profanities at classes, displayed racist or hateful imagery, and have even exposed themselves to strangers. In order to prevent a Zoom Bomb experience, only let your child join Zoom calls that are password protected. That way, the only people allowed in the request are the ones who were expressly invited.
- Set Parental Restrictions. By blacklisting specific sites, you can partially control what your children see online. In this way, violent, pornographic, and overall harmful material is kept out of sight for your family.
Increased internet exposure means increased risk. Protect yourself and your family by thinking proactively and talking to your kids about internet safety and best practices.