A recent survey revealed that 51.5% of children have been cyber bullied in South Africa. “The reason for this is the increase in connected societies, more and more people are online, especially the youth.” Says Simon Campbell-Young, co-founder and VP global sales at Digimune. “There is clearly a lack of good cyber education and defensive tools. 

Here are some tips to protect your you and your family:

  1. Education is key

This is the first awareness step. The vast majority of children have access to a wide variety of online devices—either shared, or their own device—from a young age. By the age of 10, 30.5% of children have their own smartphone and 41.5% have access to a shared smartphone. It is thus imperative to take time to go about the internet – the good and the bad. This is the first step. Good cyber education also exists as well as defensive tools that can help protect you and your family. It’s important to know about them and to think about these tools as an option.

  1. Limit the time spent on the internet

Cyberbullying has increased in SA during lockdown as more and more family members spend longer periods online. Parents are also allowing their kids to spend more time online, which has been an overspill from the last 12 months, in terms of online education.

  1. Be cautious of the information you share online

A number of cases have occurred locally and abroad where kids have had indecent imagery of themselves uploaded onto social media platforms. Online group chats, abusing another pupil or individual and the recent case at bishops, regarding rape, is a prime example. Sharing less information online, being aware of the signs, managing  your digital footprint, utilizing a monitoring tool and takedown service like digimune.com can help you protect kids from becoming victims of cyberbullying.

  1. Monitor your children’s devices

A lot of parents feel overwhelmed within cyberspace and it is normal. Parents need to be able to monitor devices, monitor content, but also have an advanced threat notification solution such as Digimune to help them in this omnipresent risk. With the Digimune platform, for instance, it’s possible to monitor and notify the parent regarding dangerous/illicit content. We can also pick up early signs of grooming, graphic content in terms of violence, needs to be monitored, and also porn.

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Full survey report below with tables:

Benchmarking cyber threats to South African children

Digimune, the digital identity, privacy and social media protection company, surveyed 200 South African parents in February 2021 to gauge their views and concerns around children and digital threats. The results revealed that children in the respondents’ communities have been a victim of the following cyber threats:

●        35% of children have been a victim of cyberstalking

●        36.5% of children have fallen victim to online shaming

●        43.5% of children willingly share their personal information on online platforms

●        54% of children have accessed inappropriate content via digital platforms

●        A staggering 51.5% of children have been cyber bullied

More than one out of every two children in the respondents’ communities have been victims of cyberbullying, or have accessed adult or otherwise inappropriate content online. Further, more than two out of five children have shared personal information online, and more than three out of ten have been cyberstalked or been a victim of online shaming or revenge porn. (See tables 1 and 2 for the full results).

It is likely that this data is an under-representation, due to a combination of children’s reluctance to tell their parents about an attack and the sophistication of cybercrime today. Far from ad hoc, brute force attacks using rudimentary technology and techniques, cyber criminals harness the latest tech, bide their time and are strategic about their activities. The theft of personal information or hacking into social media platforms are good examples of this. Because criminals go on to sell this information on the dark web, it is in their interest for you, or your child, to be oblivious to the theft of information or the hack.

Further results from the survey

Digital concerns:

Parents top five digital concerns for their children are:

●        Shaming/revenge porn

●        Cyber bullying

●        Accessing adult or otherwise inappropriate content

●        Grooming

●        Identity theft

(See the full results in table 3).

Access to devices:

The vast majority of children have access to a wide variety of online devices—either shared, or their own device—from a young age. By the age of 10, 30.5% of children have their own smartphone and 41.5% have access to a shared smartphone. But there is also a proportion of parents who indicated in the survey that their child will never have any access to specific devices. (See tables 4 and 5).

“Today, being online and having access to a variety of digital tools and platforms are a must-have, not a not a nice-to-have. From learning, to creating, socialising and exercising, our online life is as important as our analogue life. Unfortunately, this has been weaponised by criminals wanting to profit from and wreak havoc in our, and our children’s, lives,” said Simon Campbell-Young, co-founder and VP global sales at Digimune. “Parents need to protect themselves and their families by harnessing technology as an important early warning system and an effective line of defence.”

About Digimune

Digimune is a cloud-based platform that provides next-generation digital risk protection. Digimune safeguards individuals, families and businesses from digital threats across all publicly available platforms.

About the survey and breakdown of results

Digimune surveyed 200 South African parents in February 2021 to gauge their views and concerns around children and digital threats.

Table 1: Cyber threats the respondents’ children have been a victim of
 YesNoI don’t know
Access to adult or otherwise inappropriate content26.5%62%11.5%
Sharing personal information16.5%68.5%15%
Being hacked12.5%82.5%5%
Cyberbullying11.5%85%3.5%
Grooming9.5%77.5%13%
Cyber stalking9.5%80%10.5%
Identity theft6%91%3%
Shaming/revenge porn5%89%6%
Doxing2.5%83%14.5%
Table 2: Cyber threats children in the respondents’ communities have been a victim of
 YesNoI don’t know
Access to adult or otherwise inappropriate content54%37%9%
Cyberbullying51.5%41.5%7%
Sharing personal information43.5%43.5%13%
Being hacked41.5%44%14.5%
Shaming/revenge porn36.5%56%7.5%
Cyber stalking35%46.5%18.5%
Identity theft26%61%13%
Grooming24%61%15%
Doxing10.5%66.5%23%
Table 3: The cyber risks SA parents are most concerned about
Shaming/revenge porn1
Cyberbullying2
Access to adult or otherwise inappropriate content2
Grooming4
Identity theft5
Sharing personal information5
Being hacked7
Doxing (having their private details shared online by someone else)8
Cyber stalking9
Table 4: Ages at which children first have access to shared devices
 <5 years old6-10 years old11-15 years old16+ years oldNever
Smartphone13.5%28%35.5%17%6%
Tablet22%27.5%20%22.5%8%
Computer14%28.5%28.5%18.5%10%
Online gaming console13%28%21%18.5%19%
Table 5: Ages at which children first have access to their own devices
 <5 years old6-10 years old11-15 years old16+ years oldNever
Smartphone8.5%22%39.5%24.5%5.5%
Tablet12%27%28.5%23%9.5%
Computer7.5%25%28%31%8.5%
Online gaming console8%23.5%25%22%21.5%