According to Javelin Strategy & Research, your kids are navigating extreme online risks that are largely overlooked by parents and guardians. The research institute warns that lenient attitudes around social media use are creating an easy entry point for criminals to target children (AKA – your kids!) and that children active on social media are at the greatest risk of being targeted for scams, having their identities stolen/compromised, and at increased risk of being cyberbullied, which makes them more likely to be victimized by fraud. And this risk puts the extended family (that’s YOU!) at risk! #NotMyKids, you say? Well, okay –  but the statistics tell a different story….

  • Cyberbullying is most prevalent among children 10 to 12 years old. Children who are cyberbullied at a young age are more likely to continue being cyberbullied as they age. Children on YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, and Facebook are at the highest risk of being cyberbullied. YouTube by far is the most widely used social media platform among children, with 81% of U.S. households with children on social media listing YouTube as one of their primary platforms. YouTube also poses unique risks in that it caters to very young children, with targeted channels such as YouTube Kids, which 62% of household respondents said last year they had children actively using.
  • Cyberbullied children are more likely to be victimized by fraud. Among households that reported having children who had been victimized by fraud, 71% noted that their child also had previously been bullied (31% of those specifically cyberbullied).
  • Affluent households are most likely to have children victimized by cyberbullying and extortion. Children from households with income of at least $150,000 annually are among the most likely to be victims of cyberbullying and cyber extortion.
  • Children in affluent households are most likely to be targeted for ID theft and scams. Children living in households with income of at least $150,000 annually are the most likely to have their personal information compromised as part of a data breach (26%), and/or to be targeted by a scam (23%).
  • Criminals target children through social media. Nearly half (47%) of children victimized by identity theft and subsequent fraud also experienced the takeover or compromise of their social media accounts as the fraud was perpetrated.

So, if the state of our online worlds is riddled with risks and opportunities for missteps (It is!), how can parents combat the reality of the world we live in and help our kids?

Make Sure You Understand How Children Are Cyberbullied

73% of U.S. households say they are concerned about cyberbullying. But few parents and guardians understand that social media is one of the primary tools used for cyberbullying. Children on YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, and Facebook are at the highest risk of being cyberbullied, because of those platforms’ ubiquity and ability for strangers to directly contact children on those platforms.

Learn How To Detect And Prevent Cyberbullying In Your Home

Cyberbullied children are more likely to be victimized by fraud. Children who are cyberbullied are more likely to isolate and hide their online activity from parents/guardians, making them prime targets for scams. Successful scams hinge on sophisticated socially engineered schemes that manipulate or coerce children. You can sometimes detect cyberbullying by noticing behavioral red flags. Children who are cyberbullied and later targeted for scams often exhibit secrecy about online activity and abruptly deactivate social media accounts.

Appreciate The Unique Risks Children Face On Social Media

When children’s social media accounts are taken over, other members of the family are often subsequently targeted for scams. Posting physical whereabouts, such as “checking in,” puts children and families at increased physical risk and helps cybercriminals build profiles that enable them to more easily fool children and those connected to them. Nearly half (47%) of children victimized by identity theft and subsequent fraud who owned social media accounts at the time of a fraud incident saw their social media accounts taken over. And Javelin’s research last year showed that nearly half (41%) of children who fell prey to a scam were conned by a cybercriminal after downloading a game or mobile application to their phones.

Understand That Peer-To-Peer (P2P) Scams (That’s Paypal, Venmo, Cash Ap, And Zelle!) Target Children And Educate Your Kids!

Scams linked to fraudulent peer-to-peer payments—payments children are persuaded by criminals to make, or which criminals make through accounts children give them access to—are increasingly prevalent. The misuse of P2P accounts adversely affects the household, in that children under the age of 16 typically use a parent’s or guardian’s account (within the household). When a P2P account is compromised through a child, it often is not just the child’s account that is compromised. Children, especially those in vulnerable age groups (16 and younger), are more likely to be cyberbullied, which puts them at greater risk of being persuaded into money-mule activity and being secretive, through social media.

Engage With Your Financial Institutions To Improve Your Family’s Cyber Security

Sign up for critical security alerts that aid you in detecting suspicious account activity across both financial and nonfinancial accounts and seek out full-family identity protection (for EVERY member of your family).

Consider Identity Protection Services (IDPS) To Reduce Online Risks For Your Entire Family!

Children are often secretive and protective about their use of social media, especially if they are or have been victimized by cyberbullying. This results in major risk for themselves and their families. Social media monitoring, which scans children’s social media accounts for illicit or suspicious activity, is one reliable way parents and guardians can detect potential cyber-risks a child might face. Such monitoring is often provided through identity protection services (IDPS). Nearly half of households impacted by child identity fraud saw their children’s social media accounts taken over as part of the fraud incident.


The reality is that when takeover, misuse, or fraud results, it has an adverse financial effect on not just the child but also the family. Most families are not being proactive enough when it comes to anticipating and addressing the risks their children face in the digital age. Consumers also fail to recognize the risk children within their households pose for the entire family.

Don’t be THAT family! Stay Safe and keep your family secure!

** Javelin’s annual examination of child identity theft, privacy risks and identity fraud, reviews trends surrounding cybercriminals’ compromise and exposure of children’s personal information for the purpose of committing fraud and scams. This year’s report, Child ID Theft: Social Cyber Risks and the Persistent Threat to Families, is sponsored and supported by TransUnion, Equifax and Savvy Cyber Kids. This Javelin report highlights the unique and extreme cyber risks children face online, namely through social media. Cyber-extortion, cyberbullying, and eventual child identity theft are closely linked to unrestricted social media use and have long-term financial and emotional consequences for children and their families.

Learn more!

Join the Javelin Research Child & Family webinar on Tue, Jan 9, 2024 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM EST:

Conversation Starters:

  • What was the youngest age that you remember experiencing (or a friend or another young person experiencing) cyber bullying?
  • Can you give any examples of cyber bullying on a social media platforms like YouTube, Snapchat, TikTok, or Facebook?
  • Can you share any stories of a child online who got taken advantage of in a game or on social media?
  • Have you seen or heard of an online incident where someone lost money?
  • Can you give an example of how buying something online or sharing private information online could lead to experiencing fraud or criminal activity?
  • Do you understand how cyber criminals work with our private information and how that can cause harm to you and our family?


Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents, to teachers and students. Sign up for our free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics. See more cyber safety and cyber ethics blogs produced exclusively for EarthLink. Looking for a social media parental control? Try a 30-day free trial of Bark. If you sign up after your trial, Bark donates 25% of your monthly fee to Savvy Cyber Kids.

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Interested in becoming a Savvy Cyber Kids sponsor? Email Ben Halpert.