Editor’s note : This is the second part of our series on the safety of children on the Internet. The first part is about small children, you can read it here.
Parents have always made sure that their children are safe on the internet, especially their teenagers and young adults. This conversation with parents and children who work and study at home is even more important. But as days change into weeks, the line between safe and risky digital behaviour can become a little blurred. Maybe we can help you by freshening up the base.
Why is Internet safety important for children?
There’s no other way. Young and old, in the course of time we have connected almost every aspect of our lives to the digital domain. When we want to work, work in a bank, shop, pay bills or communicate with family and friends, we need to contact them. Life online makes the safety of the Internet not only important, but also crucial for parents.
Children go to school to have fun and talk to their boyfriends and girlfriends, but they lack the emotional maturity and critical thinking skills to deal with everything they encounter on the other side of the screen.
Proactive digital literacy is addressed here.
If our parental goal is to educate intelligent, responsible, caring adults who are ready for real life, then that goal must include protecting their emotional and physical health from the risks of the grid. There is no such thing as a 100% secure digital platform or product. Therefore, our best strategy is to learn and teach skills that reduce this risk.
What is the danger of the Internet?
Any danger that exists offline is potentially multiplied when we enter the network, because the network gives us all full access. With a few clicks we open a world of possibilities. The back? A battalion of crooks and hooligans is constantly present to use this access. On the internet we will be dealing with the best and the worst of mankind. Daily threats to children include bullying, inappropriate content, predators and loss of privacy. Add to this list digital viruses and malware, phishing scams, sharing harmful content and gambling addiction.
How can children’s households avoid digital risks?
So what can we do to ensure that in the coming weeks there are no more digital risks for our households? We start with consistent and open discussions with our kids about online safety (even if they start to roll their eyes). It’s true: Your family’s cyber security is as strong as the weakest link in the security system. If one member of your family neglects the security of the Internet, your whole family is at risk.
So let’s start with some basic security measures on the Internet that you can communicate with your teenagers and young adults. For safety recommendations for young children online, click here.
11 Basic Internet security for young people with a home connection
- Be honest with the content. It is likely that your teens and youngsters have encountered inappropriate material on the Internet. You can minimize further revelations by discussing the family’s expectations and values in relation to acceptable content – both in the air and at reception. As a reminder: Disappearing snapshots and deleted content can easily be captured in a screenshot – nothing in the online world is personal. For extra muscle control, consider adding parental control software to your family’s online safety plan.
- Keep your passwords, software and applications up to date Because we’re at home, we have more time for details. View your personal and family devices and update all passwords. Updating the software and applications on the devices also protects children from external risks.
- The balance between life and technology. Kids can surf, scroll, and watch videos all day long on YouTube or TikTok. Setting boundaries on the screen helps children develop healthy technological habits. Think about the planning of hardware breaks, the absence of telephone zones (dining table, movie time, bedtime), and the installation of software with time limits.
- Be the leader of the network. Yoda was the target – from great power comes great responsibility. Many dangers on the internet can be reduced by teaching children to follow what is happening online. The practice of empathy, respect, tolerance and compassion makes the digital world a safer place for everyone.
- Talk to your colleagues. Children with cameras can share unwise personal photos with trusted friends. However, if a friendship ends, these photos may be passed on or used for harassment or blackmail. Talk to your child about peer pressure and how you can respond to it.
- Watch out for the scam. Often referred to are various forms of fraud, including phishing, malware, snake fishing, fake messages and mouse-click bait.
- Don’t be friends with strangers. Sex offenders create fake accounts on social networks with the specific purpose of befriending children. Children in turn exchange personal information, times and places and can even arrange a personal meeting with friends online. Discuss these risky scenarios and other predator-manipulation tactics with your child. Stay up to date with his friends and search for chat applications such as WhatsApp or Kik.
- Maximum confidentiality in social profiles. Help children optimize their privacy settings in social profiles and delete any profile information or messages that inadvertently disclose personal information. Consider deleting the names of family members, pets, school, place of residence, and birthdays. Hackers may collect this information to crack passwords or create real phishing scams.
- Let’s take a look at the family NPV. Virtual private networks are becoming the most popular way to do business, shop and protect online family activities from unauthorized individuals. VPN encryption can protect a child from multiple virtual threats.
- Checking the safety of the game. If your children spend a lot of time playing games such as Fortnite and Call of Duty, they may have to deal with strangers, bullies and cheaters who hunt players. Young people should use a firewall to prevent potential attackers from accessing their PCs and home networks, as well as a comprehensive solution to protect devices from malware and other threats.
- Surveillance equipment. Check all devices regularly. Check your privacy settings on social networks (children can change them), search for new applications and view your browsing history, chats and texts. Do we have to go any further? Press and hold your child’s phone for several hours to check for pop-ups. They can detect activities that might not otherwise be visible.
It is not so easy to master all the moving elements of Internet safety and the balance between the relationship with the child and parental control is sometimes difficult. Although children experience more drama and fear when they go online, social media remain important channels for affirmation, expression and communication. Over the next few weeks, take the time to listen, learn and become familiar with your child’s passions and digital habits. Identify security gaps and strengthen these areas. Good luck, parents, you can do it!
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