With the explosion of internet and rapid advancement in technology over the past decade, our lives have been changed altogether. We have entered in an entire different cyber-world that is both exciting and a scary place for kids and adults alike. Kids today are born with the inherent ability to use smart devices, play games, google information for their homework, and make friends on social network. Online kids live their lives out loud and experiment with the cool and bold side of themselves that they are reluctant to express otherwise.
Few years back parents had to talk to their kids about the real life dangers with strangers, but now they also need to warn their kids about the hidden dangers online and how to protect themselves from online predators, bullies, scammers and hate groups.
Here are some tips on what parents can do to help keep their children safe online:
Educate your little ones about the basics of staying safe online, teach them about VPN, malware protection, password protection and netiquettes. Make sure your kids know about the scams such as Social Engineering, phishing and what they can least do to avoid these.
Online Strangers Are Real World strangers
Cyber-world now has become so anonymous that anyone can be anybody here creating any persona they want. Oftentimes teens share way too revealing information about themselves like where they will be hanging out tonight or who they will be with. Some find real status in having hundreds of “friends” in their social circle, most of whom they have never met in real life. Such children may fall victim to online predators. Tell your children about cyber bullying and online predators. Ask them not to reveal too much personal information and to limit their social circle to the real life friends only. Remind them to protect their identity and to never give out information such as phone number, email address, home/school address.
Stay in Kid’s Friends Zone
Be friend and follow them on all social accounts to keep an eye on their activities and make sure you have “unrestricted” access to their posts. Encourage your kids to use internet with you to make it a shared experience. Your kids must feel that you are their safe haven so they turn to you in a situation when something bothers them online. Be a part of their cyber-world, join them in their online activities whether it be games or their homework.
Supervise their cyber-world – Parental Control
Setting up parental controls on all internet-enabled devices, can help your kids stay safe online. Microsoft windows and Mac offer built in parental controls. Some other apps with more features are:
Qustodio (Windows /Mac/Anroid/iOS)
K9 Web Protection (Symantec has bought K9 Parent company and decided to Shut Down K9)
KidLogger (multiple platforms)
For younger kids under the age of 10, use safer search engines like Swiggle and Kids Search.
While they won’t fully understand the guidelines, some simple things you and your kids can do:
• Create unique passwords by adding uppercase, lowercase, symbols, numbers and special characters etc, and keep changing passwords frequently.
• Do not click dubious links or pop-up ads, avoid visiting the sites that have internet transfer protocol HTTP without a “s” (HTTPS).
• Access website by directly entering the official domain or URL in browser address bar.
• Set some rules such as to limit and specify the time to be spent on internet or agree on what sites kids can and can’t visit.
• If you have integrated webcam, put tape over the lens. If it’s a standalone camera plug it into USB port only when you need it.
• Do not respond to hateful/abusive and disturbing messages or comments.
• Keep registered and up-to-date security and anti-malware solution.
Share with us how you keep your young ones safe while they browse the internet ?