Technology is something taken for granted by kids. The so called Millenial Generation was born inserted in a world where portable multimedia communication is common sense. We have a responsibility in keeping kids safe on the internet.
Ask any teenager if they can imagine a world without social networks, apps, tablets or smartphones and you'll get answers ranging from "it would be difficult" to "was there a time with no internet at all?". According to an ongoing study with women across the USA, 39% of kids get a social media account at 11.4 years and 25% now have "private" online access from their bedrooms.
The Internet is already part of the children's life since very young and combined with the natural childhood innocence, many breaches open for dangerous situations, which can be avoided with the correct instructions and monitoring by parents. If the internet brings risks to adults, the web can cause even bigger problems to kids and teenagers.
However difficult it may be to find a point of balance between technological life in our current days with rules for the use of electronic equipment, it is essential that parents establish rules and talk a lot with their children. A good solution is to show the problems and risks that happened or happen with other children, always based on real news.
Here are some alerts to help protect kids on the Internet:
- Guidance and conversation are keywords. Showing the risks and always maintaining a trustworthy dialogue is the first step towards safe browsing.
- Look at yourself first. It is no use to guide and start imposing rules if the parents themselves are using devices too much, the example must come from home.
- Monitoring and content blocking tools. Nowadays, there are many antivirus options that include a content filter, which parents can restrict through passwords. It is essential to make clear for the child that this is not a restrictive block, which can be seen as a punishment, but as a protection against cybercriminals.
- Follow them on social networks. Even if there are age limits to access these networks, prohibiting use often is not the best solution. Therefore, ideally you should be aware of publications and comments made by them. Moreover, it is important to have the password of social networks and their devices.
- Set limits. Set a time for children to play and spend time on the internet.
- Be aware of downloaded applications on smartphones. When it comes to mobile applications, it is necessary to accept terms and permissions, it is very important to know how reliable they are.
- Install security solutions on the devices. Always keep antivirus tools updated to prevent malware problems on laptops, tablets and smartphones.
Fernando Amatte is a Cyber Security Specialist at CIPHER