Cyber criminals target innocent children

The story of Hansel and Gretel might not seem relevant to cybercrime, but it is. Imagine, going into the woods to starve to death. Good for them, Gretel leaves behind a trail of pebbles leading back home. Finally, through a combination of wit and courage they save themselves from the witch who wanted to cook them for dinner. Well, the Internet is not very different from the woods where predators lurk in the dark only to get their hands on unassuming kids. Parents, unfortunately, could be unknowingly leading their kids into those dark woods.

They, therefore, have a crucial role to play in making sure their kids are safe from ending up as an entertainment for pedophiles.

100 Children raped in the UK in 2015 were lured inthrough the Internet

The stories about kids misusing theinternet are scary. Unsuspecting kids who think they are 'making friends' end up falling for predators skulking, bullying and cajoling them into meeting up through social media. As reported by The Telegraph, in the UK, in 2015 alone 100 kids ended up being raped by cyber criminals after being lured in through the Internet. Shockingly, kids as young as one were among the victims.

While the offences committed against minors using the internet were around 3000 in the last year, a staggering 272 are against very young Children, even toddlers.

Most of these victims were approached by strangers under fake identities, ultimately befriended and blackmailed over personal pictures they might have shared; even tracked down using personal information they revealed.

Reasons for growing cyber crimes against children

The problem is seen as a direct consequence of people beginning to use the Internet at a younger age.It gets worse when parents, in order to present their kids as computer smart, give them more exposure than appropriate.

Parental controls, as they are called, are not controlling and the established boundaries can always be trodden.

Even the ‘cute display pictures’ that kids upload attract a lot of sexual predators who are always on a lookout for contacting minors who would share their personal details with a ‘friend’ they found online. To kids what seems like sending a selfie to a cute stranger or breaking a couple of rules here and there, leads to requests for nudes, finally giving rise to a vicious cycle of blackmailing and more tantalising content.

Parents are partly to blame for the issue since living in their wonderland, they keep thinking this will never happen to their kidsuntil it happens. Sadly, in a bid to save themselves from getting bashed, kids keep their parents in the dark.

How to protect children from cybercrime

Kortney Peagram, who works as apsychologist has a piece of advice for the parents, “Discuss, monitor, and educate.”

Having thoroughly discussed the dangers of cybercrime, parents can lay down a set of rules, 5 or maybe less. They need to be taught that it is unhealthy to do something online that they would never do in real life. Inform them about how serious sending nude pictures of themselves or sexting can be. Relate to them the terrible stories of tweens and articles about what other kids have faced because of using the Internet irresponsibly.

Another important step is to limit kids' screen time. Social media addiction and kids losing their sleep and even grades to the Internet, is real. Ideally, they should be getting no more than 2 hours of screen time a day.

Parents need to recognise that their kid's internet usage might have to do with unmet needs for affection and a struggle to communicate in real life. This is why monitoring their behaviour is important. From knowing what they do, to what sites they visit, the people they talk to and changes in their behaviour; it is all essential to keeping kids safe.