Tips from TDS to Keep Kids Safe Online


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Research from the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that kids between the ages of eight and 18 spend upwards of eight hours online each day. With school officially out in most districts across the country, the reality is that these daunting youth screen time hours could go up in the coming months. This transition from the classroom to summer freedom is a major reason the U.S. Senate designated June as National Internet Safety Month in 2005.

In honor of Internet Safety Month, TDS Telecom is alerting parents of the six most common youth internet safety concerns along with key facts and potential risks.

  1. Screen Time: There has been a significant increase in heavy internet use among youth in recent years. While 24 percent of teens reported they used the internet “almost constantly” in 2014-15, this figure nearly doubled to 45 percent in 2018. This can be partially explained by the fact that 95 percent of teens had access to smartphones in 2018, compared to 73 percent in 2015.

Did you know?

  • 41 percent of parents of 12-15 year old’s struggle to control their child’s screen time
  • One in three worldwide internet users are under the age of 18

Potential risks of too much screen time include:

  • Effects sleep, behavior, brain development
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  1. Cyberbullying: When someone bullies others using electronic means, it’s commonly referred to as cyberbullying. It’s increasingly common through social media, but can also include harassment through text, email and gaming platforms. Since the vast majority of kids are plugged in with smartphone access, cyberbullying can be discreet, yet consistent.

Did you know?

  • 14 & 15 are the years when kids are at the greatest risk of cyberbullying
  • One in eight 12-15 year old’s say they’ve been bullied on social media

Some of the risks of cyberbullying (compared to traditional bullying) include:

  • Eliminates “safe zones” such as one’s home
  • Offers anonymity to the perpetrator
  • Difficult to police and punish
  1. Privacy & Identity Theft: When online, children can unknowingly reveal enough personal details (e.g. address, phone number) to enable their identity to be stolen. Many of the sites children like to use blatantly ask them for personal information, including pictures with friends, names and where they live, their favorite music, films and games. If a child’s identity is stolen, it may go unnoticed for many years.

Did you know?

  • Only 71 percent of parents tell their child not to give out personal information online
  • Children are targeted for identity theft 35 times more often than adults

Ways to protect your child from identity theft:

  • Check their social media privacy settings
  • Check their device settings for location services, Bluetooth sharing, etc.
  • Search your child’s full name on Google and block pop-ups
  1. Online Grooming: As children become more relaxed and accustomed to talking to strangers online, it’s important to think about the implications. Grooming refers to people befriending others, including children, in order to take advantage of them for a variety of reasons, including sexual purposes. This is increasingly common with online video games, as the perpetrator can exploit the fun, entertaining environment.

Did you know?

  • Children remove privacy settings to attract more followers
  • Only two in ten children aged 8-11 are concerned that strangers may find out more information about them

Signs your child may be groomed:

  • Wanting to spend more and more time online
  • Being secretive about who they are talking to and what sites they visit
  • Switching screens when you come near the computer
  • Using sexual language you wouldn’t expect them to know
  1. Online Reputation: One of the key dangers of internet use for today’s youth is that everything they post is essentially a digital record that lives forever. Children in the U.S. are getting smartphones and social media accounts at younger ages every year, therefore, the risk of them having problematic content by the age of 18 continues to grow.

Did you know?

  • 45 percent of 13-17 year old’s have seen nude/nearly nude photos of someone they know being shared around their school
  • Seven in ten employers use social networking sites when researching job candidates

How to encourage children to create a positive online footprint:

  • Stress to them that nothing they post online is private (even on a private account)
  • Remind them they shouldn’t post anything they wouldn’t want their parents to see
  • Urge them to build a positive online presence (could be by writing a blog on a topic they’re passionate about)
  1. Inappropriate Content: As children become more independent on the internet, the possibility of coming across damaging, explicit content increases.

Did you know?

  • 56 percent of 11-16 year old’s have seen explicit material online
  • 12-17 year old’s are the largest group of internet pornography consumers

In order to ensure young children are not exposed to inappropriate content:

  • Set parental controls on broadband and mobile networks for smartphones
  • Be aware of key issues and how to discuss them with your children

*Information collected from nonprofit organization: Internet Matters.


About Author

Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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