In Cyber Safety

What Every Parent Needs to Know about Torrent Downloading

Most teens today are very active online. No one can blame them though, especially now that almost everything can be found on the Internet. From homework answers to music to movies, it has never been this easy. Torrenting is one of the ways that allow people to share files over the web. Free materials can be downloaded and uploaded by anyone who has an account on any torrent website. This is one of the biggest reasons why piracy takes place.

Torrents are not that dangerous when used correctly. However, many people abuse them, including teenagers these days. It is easy for them to get the file they want without paying for it. Due to the fact that they do not need their parents’ permission or money to purchase files over the Internet, they feel that they can do whatever they want. These include taking advantage of materials that teenagers should not get a hold of.

Possible Dangers of Torrents

Many people use torrent websites and the torrent software so that they can download the file they want. These include movies, music or a complete album, TV shows, games, and a whole lot more. Most of these files require money to be able to use them. Since there are numerous people who use torrent downloads to get the materials they want, it is much simpler and faster to download files.

Peer to peer technology, although quite advantageous, does have its potential threats. These dangers can definitely hurt your children if they do not know what they are getting themselves into. Oftentimes, young people will use torrents to download what they want online without even knowing the possible threats they may encounter. This is where your role as a parent becomes crucial. It is your job to educate your children about the dangers that torrenting may cause them, but of course you have to educate yourself first. Here are some of the things that you need to know about torrents:

  • Torrenting can land the user in legal trouble. With the advancement of technology these days, it is possible for the authorities to detect what users are downloading. In line with this, your Internet Service Provider can track your activities online. If they find that you are downloading material illegally, they will give you a warning. After that, they may report you to the authorities and you will get fined at the very least.
  • Malware may also be present. It is easy for uploaders to put something extra in the files that they provide for other online users. This can potentially destroy your computer and your child may even be a victim of identity theft. Malware can attack files, the computer’s hard drive, and the operating system without the user’s knowledge. Common examples of malware include worms, viruses, Trojan horses, rootkits, and malicious adware. When malware gets into your computer, it will gather information from it without your permission. This can easily lead to stolen photos and passwords among others.
  • Anyone who downloads material from torrents can expose themselves to cybercriminals. When you or your child uses torrents, it is automatic that you broadcast your IP address. This is because it is like you are sharing the network to get the same torrent download. This provides hackers a chance to collect your IP address and they can attack your computer without even having to create a malware to get to you.

What You Can Do as a Parent

Equipped with the knowledge regarding torrents, especially with their potential dangers, you can now tell your child about it. Explain to your teen why torrent files should not be abused, particularly those that only promote copyright infringement. Sometimes though, teenagers are strong-willed. You tell them one thing and they will not listen, or will at least pretend that they are.

This is why aside from simply talking to your teen, you should also take the necessary precautions. Some steps may appear to be a bit advanced, but they are actually simpler than you imagine. These include:

  • Changing your router’s settings – You can refer to your router’s manual on how to have an encryption key whenever someone tries to access the network. This way your child will not be able to go online without your permission.
  • Using a piece of software – To make things a lot easier for you, there are programs out there that you can use to monitor your child’s online activity. You can limit the amount of time that your teen spends on the Internet. In addition, you can also restrict the websites that you do not want your child to visit, which include torrent websites.
  • Blocking downloads – Unless it is really necessary, you should not let your child download anything off the Internet. There should not be torrent software in the computer. Also keep an eye on any keylogger that is installed in the computer. Keyloggers can copy passwords, which will allow your teen to take control over the parental lock that you may have set.

It also helps if the computer is positioned in a space where everyone can see what is going on. Although your teen may own a smartphone, it will be much better if the computer is in the living room so that you can monitor what your child is doing from time to time.

Once again, your most important weapon here is knowledge. If you are able to impart that with your teen, it is possible for them to understand the dangers of torrent download as well. Take some time when talking to them and do not get angry even though it can be frustrating at times. Also, do not forget to mention opening attachments or the files from the torrent itself. There are some torrent applications that will warn them if the torrent has viruses. However, if a teen really wants to get access to that file, they will just ignore that warning.

Do not take for granted your role as a parent particularly in this day and age. Technology is useful, but its benefits will be worthless if the users do not really grasp how to handle them correctly.

Sources: http://www.lifelock.com/education/computers-and-technology/danger-malware/ http://www.squidoo.com/the-dangers-of-torrent-and-p2p-websites-to-home-computer-networks http://everydaylife.globalpost.com/dangers-torrents-27050.html http://dangerousminds.net/comments/digital_piracy_to_torrent_or_not_to_torrent_that_is_the_question1 http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Around-Parental-Controls-on-the-Internet

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