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Online risks and threats

Internet is a great channel for connecting, accessing information and collaborating but the users, young and old, need to follow certain rules to remain safe in the online world. Every user of the Internet has a digital footprint, or a trail of data including the websites visited, the emails sent, and information submitted to online services. Consider the trail of data you are leaving behind. Remember that you are leaving your digital footprint before sending a scathing email, since the message might remain online forever. Be more discerning in what you publish on social media websites. While you can often delete content from social media sites, once digital data has been shared online, there is no guarantee you will ever be able to remove it from the Internet.

Not everything online is trustworthy

  • Recognize the importance of assessing the reliability of a website
  • Evaluate the reliability and accuracy of online sources of information
  • Other content (such as blogs, online adverts and search results)
  • Contact (how others online may attempt to persuade us to follow a link, download a file or engage in other behavior).

Safe use of technology can be empowering. Online risks and threats can have far reaching effects.

  • Do not be a bully
  • Do not remain a bystander if you encounter online abuse and exploitation

Online grooming

Strangers, or even people who are known, build an emotional connection with a child and young person online or face-to-face to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse or exploitation. Many children and young people begin to feel that a special friendship or relationship is developing and do not understand that they are being groomed.

The perpetrators are known to use several methods to entice the child:

  • Bribing: This can range from offering money and gifts to the child. The gifts may even be in the form of even points, lives and in-game rewards in an online game.
  • Flattery: They try to win the affection of the child by giving them constant attention and praise.
  • Sexualized games and intimacy building: They test the child’s vulnerability by introducing subtly sexual allusions in conversation or during play. If the child positively responds to his overtures, he will attempt to build further intimacy with the child.
  • Desensitization: They try to desensitize the child to sexual acts by showing the child, pornography and child sexual abuse imagery. Constant exposure to explicit content may ‘normalize’ sexual behavior for the child and ‘desensitize’ her/him.
  • Threats and blackmail: They employ forceful coercion to gain access to the child
  • Scattergun approach: When they do not know what the child will respond to, they may try all of the above in an effort to win the child’s attention and interest.

Online sexual exploitation

Internet has also emerged as a means to exploit children sexually, resulting in practices termed as “online”, “ICT-facilitated” or “cyber-enabled” child sexual exploitation, which include all acts of a sexually exploitative nature carried out against a child that have, at some stage, a connection to the online environment. It includes any use of ICT that results in sexual exploitation or causes a child to be sexually exploited or that results in or causes images or other material documenting such sexual exploitation to be produced, bought, sold, possessed, distributed, or transmitted.

This notion can thus encompass (but is not limited to):

  • Sexual exploitation carried out while the victim is online (such as enticing, manipulating and threatening a child into performing sexual acts in front of a webcam)
  • identifying and/or grooming potential child victims online with a view to exploiting them sexually (whether the acts that follow are then carried out online or off-line
  • distribution, dissemination, importing, exporting, offering, selling, possession of, or knowingly obtaining access to child sexual exploitation material online (even if the sexual abuse that is depicted in the material was carried out off-line)

Identity theft

Fraudsters obtain personal information, including address, email address, previous addresses, mother’s maiden name, place of birth, pin number, bank account details, Aadhaar number and passwords and use it in an unauthorized way for their personal gain. Such information is often required by companies or service providers as part of their verification process.

By getting hold of some information, they can access other information about the potential victim and make unauthorized financial transactions using the victim’s credit card or bank account, commit other crimes, such as entering (or exiting) a country illegally, trafficking drugs, smuggling other substances, committing cyber-crimes, laundering money and much more. In fact, they can use the victim’s identity to commit almost any crime imaginable in his or her name.

If a criminal has used another person’s identity to commit a crime, this can put the victim under police suspicion. The victim may find themselves being investigated as part of a criminal investigation, and in some cases they may find it difficult to prove their innocence.

The victims of financial fraud can also have a lot of issues come their way. If your details have been used in any form of monetary transaction, you could end up being saddled with debts. In most cases, if you can prove that the debts are not your responsibility, then you will not be liable for them. However, proving that you are not at fault can be difficult and time-consuming.

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is when someone uses technology (such as the internet or a mobile phone) to bully others. Being a victim of cyberbullying can be very distressing for a young person as most of the time they don’t know who is bullying them.

Cyberbullying includes things such as sending nasty text messages or emails, or setting up a hate group on a social networking site. The bullying may also happen 24/7 and the victim is often targeted even when they are in the comfort of their own home. Images and text messages can be circulated very quickly and widely on the internet which makes it very hard to combat cyberbullying.

Online risks and threats to children

Read in order from younger to older age groups

  • Exposure to Inappropriate or obscene material (also known as child sexual abuse materials or CSAM)
  • Misuse of private and personal information
  • Harmful and illegal content
  • Sexual Harassment
  • Invasion of Privacy
  • Excessive gaming
  • Hacking Digital Identity
  • Digital Reputation/ Cyber defamation
  • Cyber Stalking
  • Cyber Bullying
  • Cyber Predation
  • Cyber Pornography
  • Grooming
  • Trolling
  • Happy Slapping
  • Rumor Mongering
  • Phishing
  • Scams and Schemes
  • Intellectual Property Crimes
  • Copyright Infringement and Plagiarism
  • Cyber Terrorism
  • Leaving Digital Footprints or trail for harmful use

Source : NCPCR's Being Safe Online - Guideline and standard content for raising awareness among children, parents, educators and general public.



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