Being a single parent is hard. It is estimated there are currently 22 million children being raised by single parents in the United States. The responsibility to provide and protect falls solely on the shoulders of one person instead of two. While juggling all of the responsibilities that come with being a single parent, monitoring your child’s online presence and activities may fall through the cracks. But it shouldn’t. Children are more connected to the internet than ever before. One study revealed 90% of children have at least one device that allows them to access the internet. And unless their online activities are heavily monitored or restricted, they have access to just about any website out there. The same study showed 40% of children have interacted with at least one stranger online, often divulging personal information or contact details. And a shocking 15% of children revealed they had tried to meet with a stranger they met online. Monitoring a child’s online activities is a serious matter, and it’s twice as hard for a single parent to take on. Single parents have a lot on the line when it comes to keeping their personal information safe online. There is more personal information being stored online than ever before. Social security numbers, banking details, personal information and contact details — these are only a few examples of the information out there that can easily fall into the wrong hands online. A Clark School study at the University of Maryland showed there is a hacker attack every 39 seconds. Hackers don’t discriminate when it comes to what accounts they’re hacking, or the devices they’re hacking into. If you have any personal or sensitive information stored somewhere on the internet, there is a chance a hacker may get access to it. Cybercrime is a lucrative business. So much so that it has become more profitable than the global illegal drug trade. And 72% of Americans say having their personal, credit card or financial information stolen by computer hackers is their biggest fear. If the sensitive information of a single parent falls into the wrong hands, it is not only the parent that is affected, but their children too.
Ways for single parents to keep their kids safe online
Keeping your kids safe online goes way beyond teaching them the concept of “stranger danger.” Luckily, there are many ways for single parents to lay a solid foundation when it comes to keeping their children safe online. The less any single parent has to worry about online safety, the more time they’ll have to take care of everything else. First, it’s important to keep track of your child’s online activity, whether it's on their mobile or any other device. You need to know what they are watching, what games they are playing, which social media platforms they are using, and who they’re talking to. When it comes to children and the internet, online safety is so much more than protecting them against identity theft, fraud and scams. You’re also protecting them from the wrath of cyberbullies and from disturbing, violent or adult content they’re too young to understand. There are other dark dangers lurking on the internet: predators. Online predators prey on the trusting innocence of children. It’s easy for traffickers or abusive criminals to hide behind a screen while gaining the trust of their next victim. Luckily, there is an impressive arsenal of safety precautions single parents can turn to to help them keep their kids safe online: Keep the laptop or computer in an open and public area. Not only will this help parents keep an eye on what their child is looking at online, but it will also help reduce the child’s temptation to do things they’ve been warned not to. Monitor computer activity. Keep an eye on your child's computer screen. You can accomplish this by sitting nearby, or reviewing the device's viewing history at a later time. Be transparent about your monitoring activities upfront, so they know to expect it. Limit screen time. Children are growing up in a digital era. It’s important for them to know how to navigate technology, but it’s also important for them to have screen-free time. The less time they're spending online, the less time they have to engage in unsafe online activities. Educate your child on data literacy. Teach your child how to identify the difference between reputable and reliable sources of online information, online advertisements, and clickbait content. Add parental controls where you can. Most platforms offer parental controls and settings. Use these. Be aware content meant for adults can slip through the settings though, so don’t rely on these controls entirely. Make sure you have access to your child’s accounts. For safety, it's important for parents to have complete access to their child's devices. Learn their passwords, and if you don’t, get your child to share them with you.
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