How to stay safe online while staying at home?
What children can do to stay safe online during COVID-19 and how parents can support them
The COVID-19 pandemic is keeping children in home and out of school. Many children are now taking classes as well as socializing more online. This can leave children vulnerable to online sexual exploitation and grooming, as predators look to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic.
To help parents and adolescents, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific has teamed up with colleagues at the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention and Literacy Online with tips on how young people can protect themselves online, and how parents and caregivers can support their children to stay safe. This will help ensure children’s online experiences are safe and positive during COVID-19.
A lack of face-to-face contact with friends and partners may lead to heightened risk-taking such as sending sexualized images, while increased and unstructured time online may expose children to potentially harmful and violent content as well as greater risk of cyberbullying.
The practical steps that adolescents can follow, include:
- Checking privacy settings
- Making sure locations cannot be identified
- Blocking anyone that makes them feel uncomfortable
- Knowing where they can seek help
Parents and caregivers may also be struggling to support and monitor their children, including their online activity. They might be coping with increased economic burdens and uncertainty; more stress and they could be facing difficulties in maintaining and keeping households functioning during this disorienting time, parents and caregivers can:
- Speak to their children about online safety
- Become familiar with online safety tools themselves
- Understand the risks that their children may face online
- Be alert to signs of distress linked with online activity and know where to seek help
For many children and adolescents, time online is a social lifeline and a means of continuing education. While such opportunities are critical, the increased time spent online exposes them to greater risks of online abuse and exploitation.