You might have a family with several members, and maybe all of you spend time online. That’s not unusual these days, as individuals of all ages can find something on the internet to entertain or inform them.
There’s sometimes an issue, though, because some people are more internet-savvy than others. Some of your family members might know how to use technology, but they may not understand what lurking dangers there are.
Photo by Oleg Magni
Let’s run down a few online dangers about which you should know. If you’re worried that any of your family members might fall victim to one of these perils, you should probably talk to them about these as well.
Understanding the dangers of file sharing websites is an excellent place to start. File sharing involved technology where internet users share files that they house on their individual computers. P2P apps are a prime example.
You can use them to share music and other things. However, they often pose a security risk. That’s because when one of your family members uses a P2P application, they can seldom be sure that the file’s source is trustworthy.
If a family member uses a P2P app, they leave their computer open to someone who wants to implant malicious code there. They might incorporate a worm in one of those files, or a virus, Trojan horse, or spyware. Any of that can damage a computer severely, and it can often steal things like bank account information, private emails, and so forth.
As an adult, you might spend a limited amount of time on social media, but your kids might spend a lot more. If they are in their rooms after dinner, they’re much more likely to be spending time on social media platforms than doing their homework.
If you’re not an active part of your child’s life, you don’t know if someone is cyberbullying them. You should limit their social media time, but you should also talk to them about distancing themselves if anyone says things online that make them upset.
Watch for depression and anxiety in your kids. If you notice behavior changes, cyberbullying might be taking place. It can be a malicious presence that invades your home.
Phishing scams can often fool someone who is not particularly internet-savvy. Sometimes, though, even a more experienced individual can fall for a clever one.
Phishing regularly takes the form of an email that comes to you, presumably from a trusted source, like a bank, or a streaming platform like Netflix. You might get one from Amazon or another entity with which you do business.
The email is not actually from that entity, though. It’s from a hacker who wants to cheat you out of your money or gain computer access.
If one of your family members falls for a phishing scheme, they’re probably dealing with an individual who they are providing with their sensitive information. Maybe you have an older family member who gets an email that says it’s from the IRS. They want your family member’s social security number and other info so they can give them a tax refund.
If your family member does not know any better, they might fall for this ploy. It’s often older individuals who fall for these scams, but it can happen to anyone if you’re not vigilant.
Posts that Come Back to Haunt You
There’s another social media threat, and this one is usually self-inflicted. You might get in a social media argument with someone and say something especially incendiary. You also may like or comment on a post that has some questionable or tasteless subject matter.
Everyone does things they regret sometimes. The difference between bygone eras and this one is that now, you can say something online, and the internet saves it forever. This can harm someone of any age, either immediately or later in their life.
You might have a teenager who makes some throwaway comment. Maybe it’s a joke that’s in bad taste. Years later, though, your teen might have to explain that comment during a job or a college interview.
It can happen to an experienced internet user or a novice. A few keystrokes can get you in a lot of trouble if you’re not careful.
It’s helpful to get your whole family together and talk to them about each of these threats. Your online behavior does matter, and the sooner you all realize that the better off you will be.