When You need to Explain to Your Kid the Internet Is not Safe

Last week was time for me to explain to my child the internet isn’t a safe place. It wasn’t pretty. My nine-year-old daughter has been going online on a parental controlled browser and to play multi-gamer Minecraft with her friends but nothing else — or so I thought. Last week, she mentioned playing with these “friends” on an app that lets you create a family of dogs. I remained calm as I explained we had discussed this issue before and that she was not allowed to go online because people on the internet are not always who they seem to be and they might ask her questions that are personal. With a somewhat annoyed tone, she replied that she is not naïve and that when “this boy” asked her how old she was and where she lived she did not reply. That is when I freaked out. I took a deep breath and started explaining.

Just because You are not Face to Face with Someone, doesn’t make it Safer

While not being physically in the same room or playground might mean you do not get punched or pushed or mocked, it does not mean they cannot hurt you. Just because you do not see them, it does not mean they are not real. That was the easy part.

“But mom, they are just kids like me!” My heartbroken daughter whispered. That was when the hard part started. Explaining that people online can pretend to be kids and they might be interested in her the way grownups are interested in each other was the hardest thing I ever had to explain. Much harder than explaining where babies come from. Within a couple of minutes, my daughter went from my sweet little girl to the potential victim of an online predator. I know I might be overreacting. I know there are more genuine kids online than there are predators but there are also numbers. According to the US Department of Justice, approximately 1 in 7 (13%) youth internet users received unwanted sexual solicitations. One in 25 youths received an online sexual solicitation in which the solicitor tried to make offline contact. So, forgive me but it’s my baby and I am not taking any chances. As much as I think she is too young to fully understand what I am talking about, it is my duty as a parent not to scare her but to make her aware of the risks. This is no different than telling your children they should not talk to strangers the first time they are somewhere without you at their side.

Technology Alone is not Enough

There are many risks our children are subjected when going online. Some involve their information and data and others involved them as a person. In a way, I look at the former as security risks and the latter as safety risks. While tools can help with many security risks, it is only education and awareness that will help with safety risks, in my view. A key part of this education is to help them understand the internet is not just magic. There is a real human behind anything that happens online whether that presence is direct or through software programmed by a person. Educating, not scolding, so my daughter feels like she can come to me and ask questions is important and, of course, challenging.

The good old days of loading an antivirus app and restricting access are over. Phones and tablets have changed that dramatically and, although parental control tools for these devices have been growing over the past few years, they concentrate on the web vs apps which makes the whole “being safe” more complex. The small screen these devices have also offer less visibility to parents compared to a console game played on the TV in the family room. This means we cannot just “fix” it with technology. We need to take an interest. Whether we monitor the apps our kids use or we vet every app before they use it, it is up to us to keep up with the whole process.

I dropped the ball. My daughter knows she needs to ask permission before purchasing any app. When that happens, we go through the reviews together to evaluate how good they are and read the description to better understand what is behind the catchy name. Yet, I never thought about vetting the free apps she downloads as we have set up an age filter for the apps she can access. It goes without saying I do now. Clearly, the age filter helps with content appropriateness but not necessarily kids’ safety.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Fortunately, I do not have to worry about social media yet. At nine, my offspring does not have a social media presence other than what I post about her. And this is, of course, a whole different problem. Because she sees me sharing what we do on Facebook and “talking” to people I do not necessarily know on Twitter, she might think it is OK for her to do the same. As in real life, kids do pick up social cues from us without necessarily having all the information to make an informed decision. So, for some behaviors, leading by example will suffice (“Don’t text and drive”). For others, we will need to educate once again.

I now ask permission before sharing something about her, including writing this article. I explain that, very much like what you say in real life, what you post has implications. I explain why I post, what I post and, more importantly, I explain why I do not post certain things — well aware not all my decisions are actually foolproof.

Learn so You can Teach

Being a parent in a digital world is not easy but one thing is certain — it will be a lot easier if we, as parents, are informed and up to date with what children do. Our kids are growing up in a world full of screens and where social media rules. As parents, we need to make sure we are a step ahead when it comes to technology. If we think today is scary, we should try and imagine what it will be like when our kids will live in a VR world we do not have access to. While we can ask content providers and app stores owners to be more transparent and accountable, the buck stops with us.

Published by

Carolina Milanesi

Carolina is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc, a market intelligence and strategy consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and recognized as one of the premier sources of quantitative and qualitative research and insights in tech. At Creative Strategies, Carolina focuses on consumer tech across the board. From hardware to services, she analyzes today to help predict and shape tomorrow. In her prior role as Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, she drove thought leadership research by marrying her deep understanding of global market dynamics with the wealth of data coming from ComTech’s longitudinal studies on smartphones and tablets. Prior to her ComTech role, Carolina spent 14 years at Gartner, most recently as their Consumer Devices Research VP and Agenda Manager. In this role, she led the forecast and market share teams on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. She spent most of her time advising clients from VC firms, to technology providers, to traditional enterprise clients. Carolina is often quoted as an industry expert and commentator in publications such as The Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She regularly appears on BBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox, NBC News and other networks. Her Twitter account was recently listed in the “101 accounts to follow to make Twitter more interesting” by Wired Italy.

795 thoughts on “When You need to Explain to Your Kid the Internet Is not Safe”

  1. SightCare is a powerful formula that supports healthy eyes the natural way. It is specifically designed for both men and women who are suffering from poor eyesight.

  2. Cortexi – $49/bottle price official website. Cortexi is a natural formulas to support healthy hearing and mental sharpness well into your golden years.

  3. PuraVive is a natural supplement that supports weight loss naturally. The supplement is created using the secrets of weight loss straight from Hollywood.

  4. GlucoTrust 75% off for sale. GlucoTrust is a dietary supplement that has been designed to support healthy blood sugar levels and promote weight loss in a natural way.

  5. Quietum Plus is a 100% natural supplement designed to address ear ringing and other hearing issues. This formula uses only the best in class and natural ingredients to achieve desired results.

  6. Nervogen Pro is a dietary formula that contains 100% natural ingredients. The powerful blend of ingredients claims to support a healthy nervous system. Each capsule includes herbs and antioxidants that protect the nerve against damage and nourishes the nerves with the required nutrients. Order Your Nervogen Pro™ Now!

  7. Prostadine works really well because it’s made from natural things. The people who made it spent a lot of time choosing these natural things to help your mind work better without any bad effects.

  8. Achieve real weight loss success with ProvaSlim provides real Weight loss powder, weight gain health benefits, toxin elimination, and helps users better digestion.

  9. SonoVive™ is a 100% natural hearing supplement by Sam Olsen made with powerful ingredients that help heal tinnitus problems and restore your hearing.

  10. I do not know whether it’s just me or if everybody else experiencing
    issues with your blog. It appears as though some of the text on your posts
    are running off the screen. Can somebody else please comment and let me know if this is happening
    to them as well? This might be a issue with my internet browser because I’ve
    had this happen before. Thank you

  11. Boostaro increases blood flow to the reproductive organs, leading to stronger and more vibrant erections. It provides a powerful boost that can make you feel like you’ve unlocked the secret to firm erections

  12. Neotonics is a dietary supplement that offers help in retaining glowing skin and maintaining gut health for its users. It is made of the most natural elements that mother nature can offer and also includes 500 million units of beneficial microbiome.

  13. EyeFortin is a natural vision support formula crafted with a blend of plant-based compounds and essential minerals. It aims to enhance vision clarity, focus, and moisture balance.

  14. GlucoBerry is a meticulously crafted supplement designed by doctors to support healthy blood sugar levels by harnessing the power of delphinidin—an essential compound.

  15. HoneyBurn is a 100% natural honey mixture formula that can support both your digestive health and fat-burning mechanism. Since it is formulated using 11 natural plant ingredients, it is clinically proven to be safe and free of toxins, chemicals, or additives.

  16. Amiclear is a dietary supplement designed to support healthy blood sugar levels and assist with glucose metabolism. It contains eight proprietary blends of ingredients that have been clinically proven to be effective.

  17. Claritox Pro™ is a natural dietary supplement that is formulated to support brain health and promote a healthy balance system to prevent dizziness, risk injuries, and disability. This formulation is made using naturally sourced and effective ingredients that are mixed in the right way and in the right amounts to deliver effective results.

  18. Dentitox Pro is a liquid dietary solution created as a serum to support healthy gums and teeth. Dentitox Pro formula is made in the best natural way with unique, powerful botanical ingredients that can support healthy teeth.

  19. Metabo Flex is a nutritional formula that enhances metabolic flexibility by awakening the calorie-burning switch in the body. The supplement is designed to target the underlying causes of stubborn weight gain utilizing a special “miracle plant” from Cambodia that can melt fat 24/7.

  20. TropiSlim is a unique dietary supplement designed to address specific health concerns, primarily focusing on weight management and related issues in women, particularly those over the age of 40.

  21. GlucoFlush Supplement is an all-new blood sugar-lowering formula. It is a dietary supplement based on the Mayan cleansing routine that consists of natural ingredients and nutrients.

  22. Glucofort Blood Sugar Support is an all-natural dietary formula that works to support healthy blood sugar levels. It also supports glucose metabolism. According to the manufacturer, this supplement can help users keep their blood sugar levels healthy and within a normal range with herbs, vitamins, plant extracts, and other natural ingredients.

  23. Manufactured in an FDA-certified facility in the USA, EndoPump is pure, safe, and free from negative side effects. With its strict production standards and natural ingredients, EndoPump is a trusted choice for men looking to improve their sexual performance.

  24. Gorilla Flow is a non-toxic supplement that was developed by experts to boost prostate health for men. It’s a blend of all-natural nutrients, including Pumpkin Seed Extract Stinging Nettle Extract, Gorilla Cherry and Saw Palmetto, Boron, and Lycopene.

  25. FitSpresso stands out as a remarkable dietary supplement designed to facilitate effective weight loss. Its unique blend incorporates a selection of natural elements including green tea extract, milk thistle, and other components with presumed weight loss benefits.

  26. GlucoCare is a dietary supplement designed to promote healthy blood sugar levels, manage weight, and curb unhealthy sugar absorption. It contains a natural blend of ingredients that target the root cause of unhealthy glucose levels.

  27. Introducing FlowForce Max, a solution designed with a single purpose: to provide men with an affordable and safe way to address BPH and other prostate concerns. Unlike many costly supplements or those with risky stimulants, we’ve crafted FlowForce Max with your well-being in mind. Don’t compromise your health or budget – choose FlowForce Max for effective prostate support today!

  28. Nervogen Pro is a cutting-edge dietary supplement that takes a holistic approach to nerve health. It is meticulously crafted with a precise selection of natural ingredients known for their beneficial effects on the nervous system. By addressing the root causes of nerve discomfort, Nervogen Pro aims to provide lasting relief and support for overall nerve function.

  29. While Inchagrow is marketed as a dietary supplement, it is important to note that dietary supplements are regulated by the FDA. This means that their safety and effectiveness, and there is 60 money back guarantee that Inchagrow will work for everyone.

  30. SonoVive is an all-natural supplement made to address the root cause of tinnitus and other inflammatory effects on the brain and promises to reduce tinnitus, improve hearing, and provide peace of mind. SonoVive is is a scientifically verified 10-second hack that allows users to hear crystal-clear at maximum volume. The 100% natural mix recipe improves the ear-brain link with eight natural ingredients. The treatment consists of easy-to-use pills that can be added to one’s daily routine to improve hearing health, reduce tinnitus, and maintain a sharp mind and razor-sharp focus.

  31. TerraCalm is an antifungal mineral clay that may support the health of your toenails. It is for those who struggle with brittle, weak, and discoloured nails. It has a unique blend of natural ingredients that may work to nourish and strengthen your toenails.

  32. Cortexi is an effective hearing health support formula that has gained positive user feedback for its ability to improve hearing ability and memory. This supplement contains natural ingredients and has undergone evaluation to ensure its efficacy and safety. Manufactured in an FDA-registered and GMP-certified facility, Cortexi promotes healthy hearing, enhances mental acuity, and sharpens memory.

  33. Sight Care is a daily supplement proven in clinical trials and conclusive science to improve vision by nourishing the body from within. The Sight Care formula claims to reverse issues in eyesight, and every ingredient is completely natural.

  34. Well-crafted article! The information is valuable, and I believe incorporating more images in your next articles could be beneficial. Have you thought about that?

  35. Definitely consider that which you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be at the web the easiest factor to take into accout
    of. I say to you, I certainly get irked even as other folks think about issues that they just don’t recognise
    about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and also outlined out the entire thing with no need side-effects , other people can take a signal.

    Will probably be again to get more. Thanks

  36. LeanBiome is a cutting-edge supplement that offers a new approach to weight management. By targeting the root cause of weight gain – an imbalanced gut microbiome – LeanBiome provides a sustainable solution to healthy weight loss. Its unique combination of clinically-researched ‘lean bacteria’ species and Greenselect Phytosome make it a powerful and effective supplement that is backed by real-world results.

  37. I truly love your site.. Very nice colors & theme. Did
    you develop this website yourself? Please reply back as I’m planning to create
    my very own site and would like to find out where you got
    this from or just what the theme is called. Cheers!

  38. Sumatra Slim Belly Tonic is a unique weight loss supplement that sets itself apart from others in the market. Unlike other supplements that rely on caffeine and stimulants to boost energy levels, Sumatra Slim Belly Tonic takes a different approach. It utilizes a blend of eight natural ingredients to address the root causes of weight gain. By targeting inflammation and improving sleep quality, Sumatra Slim Belly Tonic provides a holistic solution to weight loss. These natural ingredients not only support healthy inflammation but also promote better sleep, which are crucial factors in achieving weight loss goals. By addressing these underlying issues, Sumatra Slim Belly Tonic helps individuals achieve sustainable weight loss results.