6 in 10 children exposed to cyber risks online, study finds

The number of cybercrimes against children jumped 144% in 2020 and continues to rise since the shift to distance education.

Six in 10 children aged 8 to 12 are exposed to cyber risks online and one in two children are victims of cyberbullying, and almost a third experience other cyber threats such as phishing or hacking, according to a cybersecurity study.

Cybercrimes against children used to be at a steady rate of 5-9% each year, but rose sharply by 144% in 2020 after more than 1 billion school children worldwide switched to remote learning, according to Surfshark.

Annual financial losses due to cybercrimes against children reached USD 660,000 (32% decrease year-on-year) in 2020 alone.

To put it into perspective, in the United States alone, approximately 12 million children have been exposed to cyber risks, 9 million have been affected by cyberbullying, and 6 million have experienced cyber threats in the last three years.

Naturally, children in countries with the lowest online presence are the least likely to be cyberbullied or fall victim to cyber dangers such as phishing or even hacking.

However, online safety education plays one of the most important roles in children’s ability to deal with cyberbullying, phishing and other cyber threats.

“Through this study, we can see that educating children about cyber threats plays a huge role so that they know how to deal with problems that can arise online. Every child is an individual,” said the expert in cybersecurity Aleksandr Valentij.

“They all look for different things in their online experience, handle danger differently. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to discussing online safety with your children. Instead, you need to discover ways to converse with them and help them understand what to do.”

Interestingly, low- and lower-middle-income countries have better online safety education than rich countries.

High-income countries like Saudi Arabia and Uruguay have virtually no online safety training, with ratings of 6.5 and 2 out of 100.

So, it’s no surprise that children in Saudi Arabia and Uruguay are the least prepared to deal with online threats.

In contrast, children in Asia-Pacific countries (India, Malaysia, Japan, Australia and New Zealand) have the best online risk management skills.

India has online safety education programs 30% stronger than the global average, while Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand have even stronger online safety education programs than India.

How to Talk to Kids About Online Safety

As the vulnerability of children’s online wellbeing increases, cybersecurity expert Aleksandr Valentij shares six tips on how to talk about cybersecurity with your children:

Educating young children: Use child-friendly educational sources like interactive cartoons. Teach children to avoid sharing personal information, photos and videos online.

Discuss Internet Safety: Focus on empowering kids, don’t scare them when it comes to using the internet. Make sure your child knows what is safe to do online and what is not.

Build trust: Let your child know they can contact you with any questions or concerns. Create an environment of trust and respect by encouraging children to tell a parent or trusted adult if they face a cyber threat.

Use cybersecurity tools: Use the right tools to protect them (e.g. antivirus, VPN, content blocker, ad blocker, etc.). Help your child run regular scans with firewalls and email filters to further reduce risks, such as ransomware.

Change passwords: If your child’s email or game platform password is leaked, help your child change it immediately. Better yet, use password managers to generate new passwords and avoid using weak passwords.

Configure internet rules: Adjust privacy settings and use parental controls for online games, apps, social media sites, and other websites. Keep your computer in an open space and consider setting time limits on all devices.

Source: World TRT

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