Older folk often describe Gen Z as "those little whippersnappers who sent their first text message within two minutes of being born," or something similar. While it's true that people with birth years in the late 90s and early 00s are the first generation to grow up with the benefit (or curse) of 24/7 access to social media, many are not as tech-savvy as you might think. But no worries. Millennials – and maybe even a few Gen Xers – can teach them a thing or two about digital spaces.

Fortunately, you can take steps to keep your kids safe from online scams.

It's no secret that Big Tech uses algorithms to present users with search results and ads based on their online activity. This echo chamber, or bubble, expands by using the data the platform collects from users, including website cookies, shared demographic information, and browsing history.

What is surprising is that well-known social media companies knowingly promote content to minors, leaving them vulnerable to topics and people that could harm them physically, emotionally, and financially.

Once teens create a profile and begin engaging, algorithms track their every move for profit. Often innocent feeds can lead kids down a rabbit hole of negative or harmful content.

These bubbles provide fertile ground for scammers and other bad actors. As children follow accounts that appear in their feed, they can be more easily targeted by someone with foul intent. Unsolicited direct messages may soon appear in their app's messaging center.

Young people are often unaware of the risks of:

  • Clicking on online ads
  • Sharing personal information online
  • Accepting friend requests from people they’ve never met

Their naivete could expose them to a multitude of popular cons, like sweepstakes, scholarship, and weight loss scams often re-worked to lure teens with false promises.

Help Protect Children and Teens from Online Scams

Fortunately, you can take steps to keep your kids safe from online scams. Start by educating yourself and your kids on unsafe online behavior, including the dangers of:

  • Sharing personal details such as location, Social Security number, or financial information via text message, email, or social media

  • Clicking on hyperlinks in text messages or emails that originate from unknown sources

  • Sending or accepting sexually explicit images

  • Keeping secrets about online conversations from parents because a new online friend asked them to

Learn more about scams that target young people by visiting FairplayForKids.org. This nonprofit helps kids enjoy safer and healthier digital experiences by advocating for the end of marketing to children and manipulations of Big Tech.