Alex Rivera | August 7, 2019
The Safest and Most Dangerous States for Kids Online
It seems like every day, kids are more and more attached to their phones and computers. They might be surfing the web for the latest meme, checking Twitter to see what’s trending, or looking to see how many “likes” their last Instagram post received (have to make sure that lighting is on point).
On average, children get their first smartphone as early as 10 years old. Because of this, they are more susceptible to internet crimes, cyberbullying, and malware. In fact, nearly 8,000 victims of internet crimes in 2018 were under the age of 20, leading some states to implement laws to help protect children from cyberbullying and sexting. Malware continues to spread like a disease across devices, including those of your children.
Last year, the team at CenturyLinkQuote dug into where these crimes happen, and this year, we focused our data points to provide a more thorough analysis of what’s really happening online in your state.
CenturyLinkQuote looked at three metrics to determine how safe a state is for kids online: internet crime rate (40% of the final score), cyberbullying and sexting laws (40%), and malware infection rate (20%). Using the state report provided by Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), we looked at the internet crime rate per 100,000 residents aged 0-19 years old. Cyberbullying.org’s report “Bullying Laws Across America” helped us analyze each state’s laws pertaining to cyberbullying and sexting. We composed a rubric where one point was given for each law passed and only a half point was given for proposed regulations that were yet to be passed in the state. A report by Enigma Software showed malware infection rates for each state.
The Ten Safest States for Kids Online
- Louisiana: Laissez les bon temps rouler—Louisiana sits atop the list as the safest state for your children to go online. Louisiana has one of the lowest victim rates for those under 20 (5.54) and is well under the national average for malware infection rates (34.24%).
- Arkansas: Coming in a very close second by our rubric, Arkansas and its 11 cyberbullying and sexting laws help keep your child safe from internet harm.
- Hawaii: Aloha—Hawaii rounds out the top three states that are safest for children online. Only 21 victims under 20 were affected by an internet crime in 2018.
- South Dakota: With ten laws battling cyberbullying and sexting, South Dakota is the fourth safest state for children online. In contrast, North Dakota is all the way down in 21st place.
- Vermont: Ben & Jerry’s needs to come up with a new flavor, as Vermont ranks fifth, being 21% under the national average for malware infections. We’re thinking “Malware-Free Maple” or “Virus-Free Vanilla.”
- Kansas: There’s no place like home, and Kansas knows that. Kansas has a low victim rate (7.15 per 100,000 residents under 20) and ten laws to protect children from cyberbullying and sexting.
- Georgia: The End to Cyberbullying Act in Georgia has been proposed to end cyberbullying on and off-campus (middle school, high school, and college). This and ten other laws give Georgia a top-ten spot on our list.
- Texas: Texas has one of the lower victim rates per 100,000 residents under the age of 20 (7.38). Mind you, they have over 8 million people under that age!
- Utah: While it does have ten laws against the acts of cyberbullying and sexting, Utah’s victim rate (9.13) is nearly two residents more per 100,000 residents than Texas.
- Connecticut: It leads most states with 11 laws in place to battle cyberbullying and sexting. Connecticut also has its malware infection rate 20.65% below the national average.
The Ten Most Dangerous States for Kids Online
- Alaska: Only five cyberbullying laws? No requirement for schools to implement cyberbullying policies? Nothing to protect children from sexting? Alaska ranks as the most dangerous state for kids online.
- Nevada: With the worst victim rate of all 50 states (23.21), Nevada is not safe for children online, despite the malware infection rate falling below the national average (-25.18%).
- New Hampshire: It might as well be called New Malware, as it sits 88% above the national average for malware infection rates, making it one of the most dangerous states for children. It doesn’t help that it only has four laws protecting kids from cyberbullying.
- Montana: With one law simply defining what bullying is, nothing else, Montana is the fourth most dangerous state for kids online. Its saving grace? Its relatively low victim rate per 100,000 residents (8.21).
- Virginia: With malware infections 67% above the national average and more than ten victims per 100,000 residents, Virginia is not the safest place for your kids online.
Rounding out the most dangerous states for your kids online are 6. Washington, 7. Oregon, 8. Alabama, 9. Wisconsin, and 10. Missouri.
Internet Safety Starts With You
When it comes to internet safety, some things are harder to control than others, but there are ways to make sure your family is safe. Be aware of suspicious language in your emails to avoid being part of a scam. Stop malware infections with the latest security software. When it comes to cyberbullying and sexting, be involved with your children’s internet habits. If you feel like your state isn’t doing enough to combat cyberbullying and sexting, call your state representatives to express your concerns.
If you want to learn more ways to keep your family safe from the potential harms of the internet, check out our Family Guide to Internet Safety for an in-depth look at malware, identity theft, and cyberbullying, and how to recognize and prevent these things from happening under your roof.