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A guide to online threats faced by kids over the last 30 years

Unfortunately, the threats have only gotten more sophisticated and easier to come by. Have a look at some that shaped the face of cyberspace today.

Over the past three decades, the evolution of the internet has reshaped the way children explore, learn, and connect with the world. As this digital landscape has expanded, so too have the potential risks and threats faced by the younger generation. From the early days of the internet in the 1990s, where the primary concern was shielding children from explicit content to the present marked by sophisticated technologies like deepfakes, the challenges have transformed significantly.

Let us together have a look at some of the threats marking the individual decades. All of these issues are still a concern but became known and feared in their respective times. None of them are to be taken lightly and should be a matter of education not only for kids but also for adults:

1.       Explicit Content Exposure (1990s): In the early days of the internet, concerns primarily revolved around children accidentally stumbling upon explicit content.

2.       Online Predators and Grooming (2000s): As social media platforms gained popularity, the risk of children encountering online predators increased. Grooming, where predators build trust with minors for malicious purposes, became a serious concern.

3.       Cyberbullying (The mid-2000s onward): With the rise of social media and instant messaging, cyberbullying emerged as a prevalent threat. Children faced harassment, intimidation, and social exclusion in the online space.

4.       Phishing and Online Scams (2000s): Children became targets of phishing attempts and online scams, leading to potential risks such as identity theft or financial exploitation.

5.       Inappropriate Content Sharing (2010s): The advent of smartphones and increased access to cameras facilitated the sharing of inappropriate content among peers, leading to issues like non-consensual sexting. This issue became even more visible with the rise of contactless photo sharing available on some operating systems.

6.       Online Gaming Risks (2010s): Multiplayer online games introduced new risks, including exposure to inappropriate language, cyberbullying within gaming communities, and potential contact with harmful individuals.

7.       Deepfake Threats (2010s-2020s): The development of deepfake technology raised concerns about the manipulation of images and videos, potentially involving children in compromising situations or spreading false information.

8.       Location Tracking and Geo-Tagging (2010s): The widespread use of smartphones made location tracking a concern, with potential risks related to privacy invasion and physical safety.

9.       Social Media Addiction (2010s-2020s): Children faced the risk of developing addictive behaviors related to social media, impacting their mental health and well-being.

10.   Online Radicalization (2010s-2020s): The internet became a space where children could be exposed to extremist ideologies and radicalization, posing risks to their safety and societal well-being.

11.   Fake News and Misinformation (2010s-2020s): Children encountered challenges discerning between credible and misleading information, potentially influencing their beliefs and perspectives.

12.   Data Privacy Concerns (2010s-2020s): The increased collection of personal data raised concerns about children’s privacy, with potential implications for targeted advertising and data breaches.

All of these, as mentioned before are not to be taken lightly and should be thought of and protected from. A good way to go about it is to use a reputable and trustworthy security solution, such as ESET Home Security. This all-in-one security solution offers safe browsing, protecting your online activities with a secure browser mode. This functionality offers an additional layer of browsing protection, safeguarding against malware, keylogging, and other types of digital threats.

The digital threats we discussed in this article are still visible and present in our kids’ pockets every day. The need for conversation and explanation to kids about these issues, and how to deal with them is a must. We suggest starting to talk to kids about these threats and safe internet use as early as pre-school years. Talking to them is a vital part of online education, as well as creating a judgment-free environment of trust.


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