What Is Texting and Private Messaging?
Texting, also known as text messaging, is when someone compiles and sends a message to another containing letters, numbers, GIFs, emojis, and so on from their devices. Devices used can include smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, laptops, and more.
Private messaging, also known as direct messaging, occurs when two or more people privately communicate with one another on a platform or application. For example, you can private message another Facebook user by using the Messenger app.
Texting and private messaging are slightly different, but still serve the same purpose; To communicate and talk with friends, family, and acquaintances. This could be something typical, like asking what a friend is up to or, something serious like telling a family member about an emergency situation. Whatever the reason for sending the message is, these are both effective ways to quickly get in touch with another person.
The Dangers of Private Messaging and Texting For Kids
Bullying not only happens to kids at school, but online as well. Known as cyberbullying, kids can be teased, picked on, and receive negative comments and messages from anyone online. The people targeting children online could be your child’s classmates or complete strangers. Sometimes, people online look to cyberbully others just to make themselves feel better.
Scammers look to prey on young children who likely don’t know any better. These scammers may say you’ve won a contest and must give them your personal information in order to collect it. Or, they may pretend to be someone the child knows like a classmate, neighbor, or relative. Usually, the motive behind scams is money-related, but it could vary. They often look to commit identity theft and fraud by assuming the child’s identity.
Sexual predators look to target victims who are young, naive, and/or rebellious. These perpetrators will often pose as someone of the opposite gender that is the victim’s age and lives close by. The predator will do what they can to gain a child’s trust, usually through sending messages. Once a relationship has been established, they will ask their victim to send explicit photos, videos, or do sexual acts for them.
There are numerous ways hackers can target children, especially through texts. The most commonly used method is sending a child a link to something that looks legitimate. Then, when they click on that link, it leads to a website that infects their device with malware. The hackers will then have access to the child’s device data and gain control over the device.
Catfishers pretend to be someone else for the purpose of establishing a relationship with another online. For children, a catfisher will pose as an attractive person of the opposite gender that is close in age to the target. Similar to scamming, the catfisher will get to know their target through messaging and seem really interested until a relationship occurs. Eventually, catfishers will find excuses to not meet in person such as they are moving or have a job.
Texting Safety Tips To Teach Your Child
Don’t Talk With Strangers
First and foremost, make sure your child knows not to talk to strangers through texting and private messaging. This rule also applies to those they friend and connect with on social media. If your child thinks they know someone but isn’t sure, tell them they should come to you and ask before connecting.
Avoid Clicking On Links From Unknown Numbers
As described above, hackers get access to a child’s device and data by sending them links and having them click on them. If your child is sent any links from unknown or known numbers, require your child to tell you so you can review the links.
If Someone Is Harassing You, Block Them
If someone is harassing your child, you or your child should block them immediately, This includes cyberbullies, trolls, or solicitors targeting your child. Thankfully, many texting and private messaging apps easily enable users to block any person or number.
Don’t Send Any Inappropriate Content
Under no circumstances should your child send inappropriate photos, videos, sexts, and more. Once something is sent to another person, it is out of the sender’s hands and into the recipients to do as they wish. They could send it to their friends or put it online for the world to see.
Be Careful What You Message
When texting, messages can often be misinterpreted. For example, if you are trying to be sarcastic, it can often be taken as having an attitude. Before sending any message, your child should re-read it to make sure it cannot be misconstrued.
Don’t Share Your Personal Information
Scammers, hackers, and other online criminals often use a person’s personal information to commit fraud and identity theft. To prevent this from happening to your child, make sure they understand that they should limit the personal information they share with anyone they message. This includes their full name, home address, account login information, social security number, location, and more.
When In Doubt, Ask Your Parents
If your child is questioning any text or person who is contacting them, reassure them that they can come to you for help. As an adult, you have better judgement when it comes to spotting online threats and those trying to take advantage of your child.
Is It Possible To See Who My Child Is Texting?
Thanks to technology today, there are multiple ways parents can see who their child is texting. The most effective ways for parents to monitor their kid’s texts are using a cell phone monitoring or parental control app. Depending on which app or software you decide to get, you’ll have access to a wide-range of features including SMS, private messaging, text, and iMessage monitoring. You’ll be able to review your child’s text content, and who they are in contact with.
Ways To Block and Restrict Texting and Private Messaging
- Use a cell phone monitoring app like Highster Mobile.
- Use the built-in iOS or Android features to block unwanted text messages. Learn more.
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