Generation Alpha, born between 2010 and 2025, already possesses a digital footprint greater than their parents and grandparents combined. Moreover, this heightened tech-savvy generation is thoroughly exposed to multiple digital platforms from a very tender age. Thus, they rely heavily on technology for daily life.
A majority of this generation is growing up in households where the Internet of Things (IoT) technology powers intelligent home appliances, such as light switches, HVAC systems, cooking systems, etc. As a result, it is now widespread to find toddlers familiar and comfortable maneuvering artificial intelligence (AI)-powered systems.
However, the extensive use of technology has also increased cybersecurity threats like online identity theft. Identity theft is not an adult-only problem anymore. The number of cases of child identity theft is also rising. According to Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab, children are 51 times more vulnerable to identity theft than adults due to certain age-related limitations and privacy protection policies. Additionally:
-In 2017, more than 1 million children became victims of identity theft in the U.S.
-Identity theft resulted in total annual losses of over $2.4 billion.
-Two-thirds of the victims were under the age of eight.
-20 percent of victims were between the ages of eight and 12.
Consequences of child identity theft
Anyone who has a Social Security Number is vulnerable to identity theft. Children are lucrative targets for criminals as they have perfect credit records and theft goes unnoticed for a long time. In addition, hackers can open new lines of credit or commit crimes using the stolen social security number as credit reporting agencies often do not carry out age verification.
Synthetic identity theft is another sinister usage of a stolen identity. Thieves combine real and fictional information for the creation of new identities. Some related threats against children are financial identity theft, tax refund identity theft, employment identity theft, medical identity theft, and criminal identity theft.
Here are some of the long-term consequences of child identity theft:
-With identity theft going unnoticed for a long time, huge debts can pile up.
-Severe damage to credit history.
-The victim would face difficulties when applying for loans.
-Victims may face difficulties getting admission to schools, driving licenses, or even a job due to issues coming up during background checks.
-Emotional stress and trauma are also some of the known consequences arising from child identity theft.
Identity theft against children is typically difficult to detect at a young age because most parents are busy raising their kids. However, parents should regularly conduct background checks on their kids and leverage parental monitoring apps to prevent identity theft.
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Benefits of using parental monitoring apps
Child identity theft often results from sharing personal information on online platforms. Any sensitive information that falls into the wrong hands can wreak havoc in the lives of children in the future. While technology has become an integral part of children’s lives, parental monitoring is necessary to safeguard them from online harassment and cyber threats.
Parental control apps are tools that help to monitor a child’s exposure to the internet. Installing security software and implementing kids’ device control are the first steps to creating a safe online environment. A parental monitoring app controls the online activities of a child. Parental control encourages healthy online habits along with keeping the home network and related devices safe.
Some benefits of parental control apps include:
-Restrict and monitor unsafe sites and contents if they have surveillance and accessibility.
-Filter and block out explicit content.
-Keep data safe by blocking unsafe websites and apps that collect data without the user’s consent.
-Set usage and screen time limits on apps or devices to help instill a healthy lifestyle.
-Peace of mind by supervising all aspects of online activities.
With the increase in IoT devices and internet usage, numerous people worldwide are becoming victims of scams, hacking, malware attacks, and more—including children. Therefore, parents must take the necessary steps to create a safe space for their children online through parental monitoring apps. This, coupled with cybersecurity best practices, can keep children safe against identity theft.
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