The internet plays a central role in most children’s lives. With this trust in online platforms, parents have a crucial role in keeping their children safe in the virtual world.
So how can parents effectively educate their children about online dangers? And what can they do to protect them from online dangers?
The Difficulties of Keeping Children Safe Online
Real-world dangers form the basis for all potential threats that users might come across on the internet. Every risk that exists online mirrors situations that users could encounter in their real lives. This underscores the significance of parents’ ability to navigate the internet conscientiously, safely, and effectively.
Children often have a more advanced grasp of information and communication technologies compared to their parents. If parents lack sufficient knowledge in this domain, at the very least, they need to attain a level of internet proficiency that allows them to guide and supervise their children appropriately.
Parents should set some rules, give advice, and follow them their own guidelines when online. While these rules should change as a child grows up, it’s still important that the rules are followed.
Because although children think that they use the internet safely, they can be the target of many cyberattacks due to their inexperience in the real world. An innocent-looking game, fake content from a cartoon they love, or fraudulent ads about making money online can catch the attention of children and lead them down a rabbit hole…
Why Do Attackers Target Children?
Children in general may not have the skills to recognize a scam or even someone simply lying to them online. They are typically more well-intentioned than adults and may think that nothing will happen to them. This makes the situation even easier for hackers.
Because children can often be impatient, this causes them to neglect cybersecurity measures that can be pretty longwinded. For example, using a password manager involves downloading the program, saving passwords to the vault, and then viewing the passwords from there can be a difficult choice for children. It’s a much faster and more practical method to save passwords in a browser and fill out forms automatically from there.
In addition, children may be curious about the topics they see in the movies they watch or talk about in their circle of friends. This curiosity means that they research into it online. If the subject is something they are afraid to share with their parents, they could easily stumble upon the wrong sites.
Children’s impatience, inexperience, curiosity, and goodwill can mean they’re susceptible to cyberattackers.
What Should Parents Do?
Understanding what children do online is crucial to protecting them from digital threats. So what precautions should parents take to protect their children from these threats?
Talk to Your Kids About Internet Safety
An important part of keeping your children safe online also means keeping yourself safe. That means finding suitable websites, games, and applications for your youngsters to use. But it also means recognizing what threats there are and talking to your children about them. Knowledge is power, so instilling such knowledge in kids from a young age is vital.
Obviously, this information has to be engaging, so yes, simply talking to them is good; however, various institutions also offer literature to inform them of online dangers and offer advice, potentially including private helplines, should they be needed. They need to know they can talk to you, but if there’s something that holds them back from sharing their thoughts with parents or guardians, they at least need someone else who is responsible to talk to.
Exploring the websites of state-affiliated cybersecurity units at the national or local level can help too. These platforms often feature insightful contributions from experts addressing family-child dynamics concerning secure internet use. Additionally, parents should read cybersecurity articles and staying up-to-date with evolving trends to ensure ongoing awareness.
Use Security and Privacy Tools Correctly
Parents can protect their children online by using filtering programs or parental control tools of GSM companies. These tools include filtering software to keep internet and computer usage under control. Of course, it’s also important to implement proportional measures without restricting children’s rights to access information.
It’s common for children to stumble upon websites containing adult content, references to prohibited substances, gambling, and fraudulent schemes, either intentionally or inadvertently. Their natural curiosity drives them to explore such pages. To address this, parents can employ the banned list approach. This method proves highly effective in safeguarding kids as they browse the web, engage in school research, play games, and interact with friends.
The banned list technique is a means for parents to prevent their kids from accessing inappropriate websites: parents actively block access to sites that are deemed unsuitable for children.
To do this, there are some very successful tools that parents can choose from.
The Net Nanny Parental Control App notifies parents when there’s a risk of the child being exposed to inappropriate content. It allows parents to determine the amount of time their child spends in front of the screen, and to terminate the internet connection at any time.
Google Family Link
With Google Family Link, parents can manage their child’s smartphone and tablet. Parents can introduce some changes or restrictions to ensure that children use the internet and devices safely in line with the information they obtain through the app. In addition, parents can monitor their children’s location and remotely lock their cell phones.
MMGuardian Parental Control
MMGuardian allows parents to set filters on sites with unwanted content, in addition to the ability to check their children’s browsing history. Monitoring tools notify parents when children come in contact with any inappropriate content from dubious sources.
Kids Place is an app available on the Google Play Store. In Kids Place, children can only access apps deemed appropriate by their parents. The app creates a safe digital environment by providing features such as parental control and child lock.
Highlight the Importance of a Strong Password
Everyone needs to choose strong passwords for all their online and local accounts. These passwords should not contain information such as family members’ birthdates, names, or pet names because these can be easily guessed by attackers. Passwords should consist of upper and lower case characters, plus alphanumeric digits, numbers, and special characters. No device should have its default password left unchanged.
This is one of the simplest yet most powerful methods to keep safe, no matter your age. Protect your passwords. Avoid using the same password for years. And update your passwords continuously.
Will All This Protect Children?
The world of technology changes so fast that it’s hard to promise that the measures you take today will work next year, next month, even next week. That’s why it’s so important you stay updated about cybersecurity and adapt to what you learn. Although there are constantly evolving cyberattacks, there are also constantly evolving methods of defense. So, as long as you create strong passwords, read and research to increase your cybersecurity awareness, and use strict parental controls, you know you’re doing the best you can right now
Q: What Are the Four Cs of Online Safety?
The four Cs of online safety are as follows: Content, Contact, Conduct, and Contract. These four words describe the biggest risks to children in the online space. Inappropriate content, harmful contact, bad conduct, and scams (i.e. phony or dangerous websites and contracts) can all pose a risk to your child. You can read more about the four Cs via a quick browser search.
Q: Should I Talk to My Child About Cyberbullying?
Cybercriminals can target children, but so can bullies. Cyberbullying is incredibly common, and your child may be going through it right now. Alternatively, you may just want to educate your child on cyberbullying and what to do if it happens to them. So, if your child is spending time online (especially on social media), have a chat with them about this topic.
Q: What Are the Five Ps of Online Safety?
Along with the four Cs, there are also five Ps to keep in mind for your child’s online safety: Passwords, Privacy Settings, Personal Information, Profiles, and Padlock. Implementing strong online protection is paramount for your child, as it keeps them away from cybercriminals and predators. You may find it beneficial to chat with your children about the five Ps so that they understand the importance of online safety.