In our modern digital world today, technology such as mobile devices and other tech haas become an essential part of everyone’s every day lives – parents and kids alike. Being without our devices or access to the internet would be completely unimaginable for the majority of us.
Being able to access the digital world is something that many would say is one of their basic rights of the 21st century, and we should be inspired by the potential upside of technology in their lives.
Technology has already become indispensable in our children’s daily life.
So the real question to ask is – “Are our children equipped with digital skills to minimise the harmful side-effects and maximise the opportunities of technology?” Well – that’s something that we need to work on – together. Hence one of the reasons I wanted to add this material to my site.
The Positive Benefits of Being Connected Online
The positive benefits of being online for our kids includes an instant way to learn and discover new things. It also enables our kids to always be connected with family & friends, and can also enhance their studies and collaboration at school, plus they can have fun playing games or watching media.
With all this technology though…. there are always things to consider in order to keep kids safe. From protecting kids from pornography or violence, online bullying, online stranger danger – there’s a lot to consider.
See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil – ignorance is bliss
Some parents are simply not aware of the various dangers lurking on the internet, and that the innocent looking device being used in their kids bedroom is actually a direct way for the entire internet to interact with your child. So it’s important that you firstly understand some of the issues early on, and can deal with them one by one.
Some parents let their kids use the internet / technology for several hours in the evenings and also weekends, but unfortunately that leaves their children exposed to a lot of things that they simply should see or experience at such a young age.
So what do security experts do to protect their kids?
I often get asked as someone with a fair amount of security experience how we keep our kids safe online, and it’s a topic that often comes up a lot in parental conversations these days.
Below are some high level points to consider, and you will find more details in the Kids menu above:
1. Get familiar with the risks on the internet
The online world parallels with the real world, where there are both safe and unsafe things out there. If you firstly understand these issues, then you have a better chance of educating your child about being safe online.
Technology and the human race’s use of it is always evolving, and so are our kids – there’s simply no denying that they will be using technology more than we ever thought possible in the future – hence why it’s so important that we educate them on how best to use it. Call it digital intelligence education.
Start discussions about technology and online safety with your child at an early age, when they first start to do anything that involves any device that is connected.
Get involved, be with them when online, and talk to your kids about what apps or sites they are using. This way, you can keep an eye on security / privacy settings, and make a judgement on whether it’s appropriate / safe.
2. Use parental filter / controls
It’s far too easy to for kids to innocently view inappropriate material online. From a youtube video, to pornographic sites – it literally only takes a few accidental or intentional clicks to see something they shouldn’t. That’s why there’s a variety of parental filters and controls out there that will help to reduce the potential for this to happen. See the parental control section of this site for more information.
3. Does it pass the grandparent test?
If you wouldn’t do it face to face – then don’t do it online. We often use the litmus test of ‘what would grandma think’ when it comes to inappropriate behaviour, but the same technique can apply for doing or posting anything online.
4. Know that the internet never forgets
Kids need to know that everything they do on the internet is captured forever, and could come back to haunt them. So they need to be considerate of what they say and do online, and the information they share. A great example of this is youtube videos – a great way to share your passion / hobby, but also overshared can lead to problems. Or how about those crazy photos of you with your friends dressing up – these days universities and employers are known to check candidates by looking at their social profiles online, but so do predators and other strangers online.
5. Teach them to be aware of strangers bearing gifts
Want two tickets to Justin Beiber’s concert?… Just send me a photo of you in your undies! Hhhhm – no one would fall for that right? Well they do… unfortunately the majority of cyber tricks play on people’s emotions – using curiosity, fear, ego, or other emotions to trick anyone into doing something they shouldn’t. It’s hard enough to educate adults on this – as a lot of people often fall for phishing emails , so it’s even more important to start talking to your kids early about the online version of a stranger in the park offering them sweets / want to come see my puppies?
6. Keep dialogue open – ensure they know it’s ok to tell you when they see something they don’t like the look of
Most children where possible will be straight onto the internet at any given opportunity, so it’s important we encourage them to tell us if they click on or see something that they didn’t like the look of, so that they get into an early routine of doing this, and knowing that they can always talk to us.
Requests, suggestions, ideas?
I often update this site, so feel free to get in touch if you want me to cover a specific topic relating to protecting your kids online.