Elementary-aged children interact with technology more than they ever have before. The amount of time kids eight and under spend on screens recently tripled over a four-year period…our children now spend over two full hours a day engaging with screen media.
Unparalleled access for young kids can also mean elevated risk. The Internet is a complicated place, and it’s not exactly known for being child-friendly. So, which web threats pose the biggest issue for parents and school administrators alike? Here are three technology troubles facing elementary school students today.
1. Inappropriate Search Results
Search engines aren’t perfect. Search-driven platforms like Google and YouTube have always struggled to serve relevant, appropriate content to users. When kids get involved, the stakes are undeniably higher. YouTube, for example, is currently in reckoning mode after a host of complaints from parents due to intentionally inappropriate videos infiltrating seemingly “safe” video channels on the YouTube Kids app. What can concerned adults do? Comprehensive monitoring of school-aged children while they use technology, particularly mobile devices, is key. Effective web filtering technology like Smoothwall is also useful within the academic environment to screen out inappropriate content on a granular level. Smoothwall always forces YouTube to operate on “restricted mode” within educational settings.
2. Malicious “Grooming”
“Grooming” is the term to describe the process of building an emotional connection with a child in order to exploit them in some way. Grooming always has a malicious intent – from sexual abuse to inciting violent extremism – and the internet has streamlined the process. Games with chat functionality (such as League of Legends, Roblox, etc.) might seem fun, but they can put young children at risk by giving bad actors unfettered access to naïve children. A granular web filtering solution like Smoothwall can ensure kids never access chat-enabled games in the first place, at least when they’re at school, ensuring they stay insulated from nefarious online company.
Kids, particularly elementary-aged children, haven’t fully developed their critical thinking skills and are thus particularly susceptible to online phishing scams. Phishing – when scam artists use fake messages, pop-ups, or even whole websites to entice victims to share personal information – is incredibly prevalent on the web. Phishers use the information they garner to steal identities, send malware, and in some instances directly exploit their victims for physical or financial gain. Kids can’t always tell what’s real or fake, particularly when they’re on the web. They’re getting smarter every year, but until their innate skepticism catches up with the complex tactics of phishers, filtering technology is the only surefire way to keep them from unintentionally oversharing online.
Smoothwall is a revolutionary web filtering technology filling the gaps between traditional web filtering software and human monitoring. Our Content-Aware filtering software looks at thousands of signals from every single web page, making real-time decisions about what kids should see and what they shouldn’t.
Elementary-aged students are one of the most vulnerable populations on the web. Internet use is a fact of life for today’s children…better filtering technology can help make it safer.
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Our specially developed technologies deliver real-time Dynamic Content Analysis™ of web pages, all without impacting on the users’ experience.