Christmas is fast approaching, and with current COVID-19 restrictions preventing you from shopping in-store, there is more demand for shopping online than ever before.
Cyber Monday is the perfect time to bag some bargains before the big day - exclusive emails, discount codes, and in-app deals are some of the usual tactics to try and persuade you to part with your money for offers too good to miss.
But… are they?
What are the risks?
Cyber Monday is big business. The surge in internet activity is huge, which means it can provide an opportunity for others to take advantage – and it doesn’t matter who the target is. Naturally, children are more vulnerable so it’s important you’re aware of what to look out for on Cyber Monday, how to respond and where to go if you need further advice.
The impact of ‘influencers’
Many children follow influencers (celebrities or social media stars that hold ‘influence’ over their large followers as trend-setters) on their social networking apps such as Facebook and Instagram. These influencers often have sponsorship deals with companies to promote their products and/or services. However, children, particularly younger ones, may be unaware that these stars are being paid and, therefore, may not have their best interests at heart.
An example of this is the detox tea brands which largely depend on “trim, tanned and perfectly-manicured” influencers to model their products. However, these products may not necessarily be a healthy choice, particularly for young children.
Phishing emails looking to steal your personal information
Amid the marketing emails and discount codes currently flooding your inbox, you might find the rogue phishing email drift passed your email’s defences.
Phishing emails are emails masquerading as official messages or adverts from businesses. They often look the part with the correct logo and branding; however, they are designed to steal your personal information such as login information or credit card details.
Targeted advertisements which are age-inappropriate
Targeted ads are, simply, marketing advertisements that target a certain group. This can be based on demographic (such as race, age, or sex), or behavioural traits (such as previous purchases, online activity, or browser history).
However, these ads have been described as a “surveillance nightmare”. In order to target you, companies actively seek your information, typically without your knowledge or consent. Furthermore, targeted ads don’t often know who is behind the keyboard – therefore, if the ads are based on your browsing history, they might show adverts that are intended for you which display unsuitable or age-inappropriate content.
What are the safety measures?
Talk to your children
Open a dialogue with your children about the culture of influencers, celebrities, and ‘role model’ figures they see or follow on social media. These social media figures must abide by the CAP code for advertising standards, meaning they must make any promotions apparent to their viewers. You might see #AD or “In paid partnership with…” on their posts, so you are aware that they have been paid to post that particular content.
Double check any emails that have links or request payment, even if they appear to be from a trusted brand. Emails that look official but have been sent from a public email domain (for example, it ends in ‘@gmail.com’) are definitely worth reporting.
Check your settings
Social media platforms and other websites allow you to disable personalised adverts. If you are wary of targeted ads, check the settings on your and your children’s accounts to opt out of the interest-based ads or ads personalisation.
Visit National Online Safety
National Online Safety is committed to making the internet a safer space for children. We issue a free weekly guide with the best advice for parents on the latest apps, tech, and games to help them support their children in the digital world. We recently released a Black Friday online safety guide, much of which is relevant to Cyber Monday and online shopping.
Additionally, all our member schools benefit from instant access to all our past and future webinars, courses, and explainer videos that are designed to empower their staff to promote and teach online safety.
Become a member today and foster a whole school community approach to online safety in your school.
Posted by Molly Hookings