Parenting today looks a bit different than it did just a couple of decades ago. One of the main differences that the parents of today find themselves facing that differs from those challenges faced by their parents and their parents’ parents is the massive innovations seen in technology across the globe. This primarily includes the creation of the Internet and the subsequent innovations which have followed. The Internet of Things (IoT) encompasses all devices which are able to connect to the Internet; regardless of our opinions of this, it is a fact that many of the devices used by children and families fall under the umbrella of IoT. Some children today know how to use an iPad before they can read and nearly all young people have a smartphone – 25% of kids today have a cell phone by age 11 and nearly 100% have one by age 15, according to one study. While many parents would prefer to avoid screens altogether, the reality for most is that they are unavoidable to some degree or another. As a parent in society today, it can be daunting to think about the task of helping your children to navigate the online world safely. Below, we’ll take a look at some tips to help your children operate in a more secure manner while online and hopefully provide you with some peace of mind.
- Emphasize the importance of privacy – Something that may not be obvious to children is the finality of putting anything online. Though you may delete a comment or a post from your personal page, once something is on the Internet, it has the potential to live on forever in databases and screenshots. Ensure that you emphasize this fact to your children so that they understand why they cannot share any private information online. Things like social security numbers, credit card information, and even PII like birthdays and addresses should not be shared online. If your child shares too much online, there is a risk of malicious actors using this information to steal the child’s identity, so be sure that your children also do not provide this information to anyone via messengers as well.
- Social media security – One of the most worrying cybersecurity topics for parents is that of social media; worries arise because it is difficult to know for sure who your child is speaking with online. One of the best things to do is to encourage your children to only “friend” people who they know personally and to only interact with such accounts. Though they may receive inspiration from other creators online, it is best to have them only communicate with people they know. It is also a good idea for parents to be monitoring their children’s posts to ensure that the content they are sharing is appropriate.
- Educate your family on cybersecurity tips and current events – Communication and continued education is key to success in learning about any area, and cybersecurity is no different. Have conversations with your children when cybersecurity news stories appear in the media and use these as a time to remind your kids of your family’s philosophies on various aspects of operating online.
- Be an example – Practice what you preach and set a good example of how to be an individual who is cyber secure. Use strong passwords yourself for all of your logins, navigate social media and other areas online in the same way you would like for your children to do so, and talk with your kids about phishing emails and other scams when you receive them so that your kids can learn and ask questions with you rather than figuring it out on their own.
Image by Drazen Zigic for Freepik