October is Cyber Security Awareness Month.
The Internet plays an integral part in a kid’s life at home, in schools, libraries and wherever they spend their free time. Though computers and mobile devices that connect to the Internet can be beneficial for learning, enhance social relations and keep young users connected to their loved ones, they can also be a source of danger and concern for parents.
Kids are now discovering computers, smartphones or tablets at an early age; as they develop and discover new experiences, it is important to protect them from everyday dangers of inappropriate contact, conduct, and content that they may encounter while online.
Internet Dangers Kids Need to Know
False Identities: It is difficult for anyone to verify the real identity of people met online; even more so for kids and teenagers who are normally more willing to trust the other person. Unfortunately, it is very easy to create an online identity that is very different from the real one.
Internet Predators: A false identity can be the means for predators to meet and befriend kids. These adults often lie about their age, appearance, and life to meet and eventually capture minors in their net.
Endless Sites to Visit: The beauty of the Internet is the availability of an endless amount of information, videos and knowledge-sharing. Unfortunately, this is also a danger for kids that could, even inadvertently, get access to inappropriate content.
Privacy or Lack of: While online, people of all ages, and kids more so, have a false sense of privacy. Much of what is posted on social networks is available to a larger number of people than a user expects and, in many cases, to anyone. Phishing is a term used for example, where criminals get sensitive information (like usernames or passwords) and misuse this information which can cause harm in many ways. Kids can also be a target of phishers due to oversharing personal information on social media and trusting Internet “friends”.
Kids are in Control: No matter how many recommendations adults give their kids, they are ultimately in control of their browsing and communications. Parents or adults can discreetly monitor and provide guidance. It can be challenging for parents to monitor their kids online without coming across as spy-like or overly protective. Even keeping track of how much time they spend online may seem intrusive.
Relying simply on parental control software and close supervision can help kids avoid many issues, but do nothing to instil that culture of safety that will prevent issues later on in their life when technology aids and supervision will no longer be effective. Please refer to our previous Blog on “Tips & Tricks for Managing Children’s Screen Time”.
We should help kids to ‘Be Safe and Smart’ on the Internet, maintain personal safety and be aware of their responsibility for their own security. Such training early in life can create behaviour changes that allow future teens and adults to assume safer Internet habits.
More resilient kids will be armed early in life with the skills and knowledge that will make a difference in their future work and digital lifestyle.
“True cybersecurity is preparing for what’s next, not for what was last” – Neil Rerup