Like adults, even children and teens are prone to security threats like drive-by downloads, links to malicious sites, viruses and malware. And that’s not all. There are some ‘special ways’ in which criminals get to kids. It includes ‘fan sites’ that contain malicious links. They could be candy messages like ‘free stuff’ and they may appear as if they are from friends. The offers may tend to offer free music, movies or ringtones. Practically, it’s a game of temptation that might lead to fatal indulgence.
There are tremendous benefits for young people who believe in online presence. However, there are network security risks that can lead a user to digital and social harm. The digital kind involves software that jeopardizes the security of devices and the data on them. The social kind, often referred to as "social engineering," is when people are tricked into putting their privacy and security at risk. Online or offline, there can never be a 100 per cent guarantee of safety and security.
However, some of these measures can keep you and your children at an arm’s length from harm:
- Get involved.-Open the lines of communication between you and your kids about what they are doing online. Educate them on what to look for online, what content to cosume and what not to. Don’t ban the Internet completely.
- Set some ground rules- These will depend on the ages of your children and the type of content you think would be beneficial for them.
- Keep the computer in a family room- With your PC in a family room such as the living room, you will be able to keep an eye on your child’s online activity.
- Parental control software and mobile apps- Use browser specific parental control settings and web protection softwares which are designed to block websites that are not suitable for kids. Installing parent protection apps on your child's smartphone or tablet can alert you if your child tries to access a blocked site and it would even help in keeping a record of text messages that they send and receive.
- Cyber bullying is when somebody is nasty or threatening you by using e-mail, text and picture messaging through technological means. Be aware that this is a growing problem for kids particularly when using email, chat rooms or message boards. Make sure you are there to listen if they want to talk.
- Report abuse when you see it- Forums aimed at children are generally well-moderated and should respond to complaints if required.
- Set Privacy settings for your child’s social media account- Privacy settings allow people to adjust who has access to what information. Become familiar with the social networking site your child is using. Learn how to use privacy settings and set them up together.
Tips for children to keep themselves safe on the Internet:
- Never post your personal information, such as a cell phone number, home number, home address, school name or your location on any social networking site or through mobile apps.
- Never meet in person with anyone you first “met” on the Internet- If someone asks to meet you, tell your parents or guardian right away. Some people may not be who they say they are.
- Only accept friend requests from people you actually know (even if it is a friend of a friend it’s not a good idea to add them unless you actually know them). Delete friends who continuously bother you or post things that are not appropriate.
- Win over cyber bullies- Print out and save any messages and show someone like a parent and ask them to help. Don’t respond to nasty emails or messages. Block or ignore the sender.
- Use a strong password (a combination of upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers) for all your online logins. NEVER share your password with anyone, including your best friend. The only people who should know your password are your parents or guardian.
- If anything makes you feel uncomfortable online, while gaming or when using your cell phone, talk with your parents or guardian right away. Report bad behavior if you feel something is fishy.
- Don’t post photos or videos online without procuring your parents’ permission. Tell your friends to ask for your permission before uploading and/or tagging a photo of you on their social networking profiles.
When parents and their children collaborate, understand, and agree on guidelines for the latter’s use of the Internet, they can derive all the benefits that the Internet has to offer and at the same time protect themselves from any cyber-related crime.