parents

Online security isn’t just about the internet.

Norton
Thanks to our brand partner, Norton

An essential guide for parents.

As parents raising children in this modern age of Facebook, Twitter and who knows what next, it’s safe to say that many of us have concerns when it comes to our kids’ safety online.

Some parents I know ban their kids from all kinds of social media, but I don’t really believe this is a viable option any more.

I know other parents who insist on having passwords and unrestricted access to their kids’ social media accounts. The family computer stays in the living room where mum and dad can see what’s going on at all times. I do like this idea and I think that as my children grow, this is the kind of approach that I will be taking. But let’s be honest here — with mobile phones, tablets and devices all able to access the internet, monitoring things at home is often not enough.

Earlier this year, internet security company Norton commissioned a survey designed to gain a deeper understanding of just how involved and aware parents were when it came to their kids’ online lives.

What was most interesting to me was that despite all of the information out there about the dangers lurking for children online, 74 per cent still said that they considered themselves to be mostly in the dark about their child’s online activities.

“As parents raising children in this modern age of Facebook, Twitter and who knows what next, it’s safe to say that many of us have concerns when it comes to our kids’ safety online.” Image via iStock.

This is a worry, because in many ways, online threats are some of the most terrifying and potentially hazardous to our kids. We willingly discuss issues like stranger danger, road safety and responsible drinking, but yet neglect to discuss something that is, for most of us, an unavoidable part of our daily routine.

But talking to our children about online risks is not just relevant when they’re behind the screen. In many ways, the basics of online security are pretty similar to the basics of security in “real life;” things like not handing out personal information such as addresses, banking details and school names to strangers, learning how to deal with relationships and bullying and lastly, the online threat they pose to THEMSELVES, meaning the information or images they share that may be private, embarrassing, or controversial.

These online risks fall into three categories:

  1. Cybercrime
  2. Cyberbullying and
  3. Online reputation

However, there are some steps, easy steps, we can take to ensure the protection of our children online and in the real world.

Increase the security on all your Internet devices.

Understanding the complicated world of cybercrime is difficult even for the most tech savvy of us. In fact, I would suggest using an internet security solution to manage the world of computer viruses, Trojan horses, phishing attacks and spam emails on all your devices – PC,  laptops and smartphones. By the way, I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t know what half of those words meant.

After that’s in place, give a good thought to the passwords your family uses — and if you use the family last name for everything, it could be time to rethink this decision. The two most important passwords are for your social network and your email account. If an external source, like a hacker, gains control of your social network, the next step is to scam your friends. And if they gain access to your email, they can reset the password on all your other accounts by using the “forgot my password” link.

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There are easy steps we can take to ensure the protection of our children online and in the real world. Image via iStock.

Have “the talk” with your children.

Another scary statistic from the Norton study is that 41 per cent of parents have never discussed the issue of cyberbullying with their children.

Parents need to open the channels of communication early with their children and present themselves as good role models through their own actions. Setting children up to be as resilient as possible is crucial, but so is teaching them to respect others. It’s important that children understand that saying something behind the security of a keyboard can be just as hurtful and damaging as saying it to someone’s face.

The importance of privacy.

Our lives are being publicly documented to a degree that is increasingly uncomfortable — and for our children this process has become second nature. Take the time to openly discuss issues of personal space, respect and privacy in an attempt to lower the likelihood of your child partaking in activities such as sexting and the sharing of private photos with boyfriends and girlfriends. Additionally, it’s important to ensure that your children are protected on forums such as Facebook and Instagram by using the security and privacy settings on these social networks to their full potential.

And if this all seems too much, just remember, there is always the option of using external software to bolster your parental control settings.

As you can see our children’s presence online overlaps with the real world day in and day out – and it’s something we can’t afford to ignore.

How do you ensure your child’s safety online?

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