How to Protect your Child from Online Abuse, Hacking, and Cyberbullying

dad and son smiling

I’m a father of two adorable children, and I’ve founded hacked.com because of them. I’m 30 years old and have worked with technology and social media my entire adult life. From creating web services, apps, and to running a large media house. After learning more about the security risks people face online, and especially children, I became anxious for my own. How can I secure their digital life?

I’ve started to write a book for parents on all the different things that parents need to know. And in this article, I’ve listed the most important tips for you as a parent, no matter if your child is five years or 17 years.

What can go wrong?

There are so many different cases, and almost unimaginable unless you experience it yourself. The most appalling stories come from some of our clients on Hacked.com. A mom contacted me recently and was desperate in trying to help her fifteen-year-old daughter. Nude photos of her were posted on her boyfriend’s Snapchat account that was hacked. A hacker had managed to hack the Snapchat account of her boyfriend, and she had sent him nude photos. The photos were taken when she was only fourteen years old.

Can you imagine to have nude photos of yourself revealed to the public, and to your friends and possibly family? It is horrendous. It can destroy the world for the victim, and often we see suicides because of similar situations.

The boyfriend was extorted by the hacker, and the hacker requested $500 to give the account back. We advised the family to not communicate with the hacker. Instead, we worked with the boyfriend to regain control of his own Snapchat account. After a couple of days, we were successful in restoring the account back to the original owner. The images have been removed. Fortunately, no one copied the images and spread them elsewhere. If that ever happens to you, we got a way to help you with that.

This is only the tip of the iceberg, not only are children more exposed to hackers, but they are in an age where events like these can be devastating.

What you should do

We have created a phone license for children that I recommend you go through with your child. There are a few key tips that you should be aware of:

Age Requirement

Your child should not have access to any form of social media until they are of legal age, which is 13. Younger children should also have age restrictions on their phones. This is something you can edit under “Settings”.

Time Limit

Children under the age of 18 should have a time limit on their phones. I recommend setting a time limit of maximum one hour per day for children below 6 years. And then gradually increase it. You can set a time limit under “Screen Time” on most smartphones. This has been very helpful for my own family as the kids “approve” of the limit set by the phone instead of a verbal limit or warning from us parents.

Two-factor authentication

If your children have social media accounts, you should require them to enable two-factor authentication (2FA). This prevents hacking of their accounts. To do this, go into their social media settings, and click on “Security” and 2FA. We recommend enabling the SMS-option where the user will get a text message with a code, instead of using an Authenticator App as most of them do not offer a backup (if you lose the phone then you’ll be locked out of your accounts).

Online Behavior

It is important that you regularly talk to your children about how to behave online. Teach them to never ever send a nude photo (for the appropriate ages, I would start at 13). Tell them to never communicate with anyone except their family and closest friends on social media. There have been stories where children have been sexually abused by their coaches thru social media like Snapchat and Messenger. They should never need to have “professionals” on any of their social media profiles. Nor teachers.

Try to be open and understanding with your children. They should know that they can come to you if they are in trouble or if they see online bullying or discover what can be termed as criminal activities.

What we offer

Even though you and your child do everything you can to avoid getting hacked or abused online, it can still happen. That’s why we have created three services:

Security Audit

If you want us to ensure that you and your family are as safe as possible we can arrange a security audit.

Digital Protection Plan

We offer a digital protection plan for families at $7.95 per month. This protection plan includes immediate help if you or your children should need that. We offer a wide range of services from recovering hacked accounts, removing content online, working with law enforcement, stop cyberbullying, and so on.

Immediate Help

If you have been hacked and you need help to recover your account, we can help you for $149.

You are also free to contact me if you got questions or concerns at jonas.borchgrevink@hacked.com or +47 98 48 24 99. I’m not always available on the phone as I get many requests, but I’ll answer any email I receive!

Featured image by valbar from Shutterstock.com

A true digital entrepreneur worked in multiple organizations, a Global Shapers Alumni by WEF, founder of CCN.com, MyGoodAct.com, Tailored Message. Has extensive knowledge within the cybersecurity field. Director of Hawkfish AS and Hacked.com.