How do children know what’s safe and unsafe online? This is the question that has been bothering a lot of parents lately. Of course, as parents, we do our best to keep our children safe by making them wear sunscreen before going out in the sun, telling them to be careful with all the Halloween chocolates, and be wary of strangers outside. But how can you protect them from predators, bullies, and harmful content online?
Needless to say, this generation is very much adept with tablets, phones, and laptops. They know the internet is a magical place where they can find answers to their obscure questions, providing them printable templates of their favorite singer and serving up endlessly repeated videos of TikTok. It has everything a teenager would want in today’s age. About 98% of Canadian teenagers were using the internet in 2020. The percentage is expected to increase in 2022, with more and more teens are now owning smartphones.
Given our increasing dependency on the internet, it’s time to introduce some cybersecurity protocols to your parenting tool kit. As part of our Cybersecurity Awareness Campaign (CSAM), we have put together the list of five tips that help ensure the online safety of your children:
Tips to ensure Cyber Safety of Your Children
Here are five useful tips for the Cyber security of your kids while using the internet.
1. Start discussing Online Safety from the beginning
The first thing you can do is start discussing online safety with your children at an early age. As soon as they start using anything that involves the internet, it’s time to break the ice and spill all the details about what exactly is there. They should know that the online world parallels the real world and has both good and bad things.
Next, introduce them to the tools that can protect us online, such as passwords, two-factor authentication, a VPN, etc. For example, if they make a social account, help them create a strong password and tell them the importance of using complex and different passwords for each account and the consequences of not doing so.
2. Know your Parental Controls
Innocent search queries do not necessarily display innocent results. For example, one alphabet here and there could bring up something that you wouldn’t want your children to see. So, it’s better to be aware of your parental controls and how you can employ search restrictions offered by the devices and browsers your child uses for accessing the internet.
For instance, Google’s SafeSearch Filter will filter/block sites with explicit sexual content. You can turn it on in the settings > SafeSearch Filters. Although it might not be 100% effective, it can surely help keep your child from explicit and offensive content.
3. Know Who your Child is talking to
We are not endorsing any spy-like behavior, but it’s wise to keep note of the people your child is talking with over the internet. Because sometimes, there is a “John” chatting behind the username of “Johansson.” We, adults, know this, but your child can be extremely naïve about who they are chatting with if they aren’t taught to be cyber smart from an early age.
So, it’s better to be aware of your child’s online social circle and ensure what they post online. Establish a friend-like relationship with your child, so they can add you to their Facebook friends’ list – though, you need to be sure if it’s the only Facebook ID they are using.
4. Be in Control of your Family’s Digital Footprints
Pictures, videos, posts, and everything shared or posted online contribute to someone’s digital footprint. The worst part is that your information can be used in many ways once it is posted online. Therefore, it’s wise to assume that anything that goes over the internet is permanent and cannot be undone (yes, it can be deleted but not unless someone has already taken a screenshot of it).
That’s why it’s recommended to be extra vigilant about posting anything online. And the same thing goes for the parents who post their children’s pictures online frequently. To be in control of your family’s digital footprints, educate your child to only share images/information with those that they deem trustworthy. Also, instead of posting images on social media, encourage them to set their images on privacy before posting them online.
Besides, some websites can even track your location and details once you visit them. For this reason, experts recommend using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) that hides your identity and lets you browse online with complete anonymity.
5. Educate them on Secure File Sharing Protocols
There’s no denying that the internet is a very unreliable place. Therefore, it’s wise to keep an eye on what your child is sharing over the internet.
You should know all the risks that many free file-sharing products pose. For example, Dropbox has several security issues – from privately shared links appearing in Google search results to hackers using this platform to share malware with innocent users. Of course, your child might also be us
There are a few steps that will help keep your children’s data secure. First, choose a file-sharing service that lets you create a “private” folder, so only those who have the credentials can access it. Second, adopt a habit of deleting sensitive files that have been shared already.
That’s all for now, if you have anything else to share with us, let us know in the comment section below.