Today’s kids and teens grew up learning and using technology from computers to cell phones. They use such devices to go on social networking sites, complete schoolwork, and Google anything they want. However, such devices, specifically computers, expose kids to a world of dangers such as predators and hackers. That’s why parents must ensure their children stay safe while using their computer or laptop.
Threats To Watch Out For
An evolved version of bullying wherein a target individual is harassed, tormented, agonized, or threatened using technological or digital means. A recent survey showed that 49.8% of tweens (9 to 12 years old) experienced bullying at school and 14.5% experienced it online.
Cybercriminals – such as predators, hackers, spammers, and phishers – execute their crimes or attacks on digital platforms. If you have kids, be on the lookout for sexual predators and child groomers, especially since a research study revealed that one in ten children becomes a victim of sexual abuse before their 18th birthday.
Online materials that contain or promote violent, sexually explicit, racist, criminal, illegal, or offensive content are all considered inappropriate – from plain-text to images to videos. Apparently, one in five youth (9 to 17 years old) will view unwanted sexual material online.
Computer Safety Precautions To Adhere To
The great thing is, despite the constant rise of cybercrimes, there are several safety measures you can take to ensure your kids’ computer safety without compromising their rights and privileges.
Built-in Parental Controls
Most computer manufacturers nowadays incorporate safety and security protocols for the users’ protection. Features usually include screen timer, website access restrictions, content filters, and monitoring tools. Aside from the device’s security controls, some browsers and search engines, as well as third-party apps, offer such tools. For example, you could use Google SafeSearch to filter out explicit search results.
Third-Party Security Tools
You should utilize reliable third-party security tools to protect your child and their device. Install a trustworthy antivirus program that automatically detects and removes malware. It also helps to avail of trusted monitoring software to gain real-time monitoring access on all activities on your child’s computer.
The first step to ensuring your kids’ online safety is to allow them to only access sites with SSL certificates or those which URLs start with https. This guarantees that the data entered on the site is encrypted, hidden from prying eyes. Then, enable internet filters – some built-in and some third-party extensions. Such filters block inappropriate content, sites, or even keywords.
Software and System Updates
To keep your kid’s online access safe and secure, religiously update your child’s computer and web browser(s). Also, see to it that you only download official update releases from your network or provider. These updates are often meant to fix bugs and patch vulnerabilities.
Strong and Secure Authentication
Passwords are the first line of defense to keep a device secure. Regardless if you share accounts with your kids or they have their own, make sure that they enable unique and reliable PINs or passwords. Also, enable two-factor or multiple authentications if possible.
Keep Personal Information Personal
Educate your kids to never disclose personal information such as their birthdate, phone number, address, and payment details. Also, advise them to avoid posting or sharing details of their personal lives such as routines and schedules, or any information that makes it easier for anyone to track or have physical access to them.
Don’t Be Trigger-Happy
Train your kids to be selective in accessing sites and to not mindlessly click on links and pop-ups; train them to not be trigger-happy. Teach them the habit of reading and scrutinizing anything they receive or view on their computers – from messages to emails to advertisements.
Be Meticulous In Confirming Friend Requests
Teaching your kids to be selective in choosing who they talk with online can go a long way to ensure their safety. Remind them that the “don’t talk to strangers” rule applies to the virtual world. Advise them to only accept friend requests from people who they personally know or requests from people with whom they have several mutual friends. When in doubt, advise your child to ask you to review their friend requests before accepting.
Open and Positive Communication
Above all, it’s vital to keep open and positive communication with your kids. Talk to your kids and be as involved in their lives as possible. Raise them to be comfortable in reaching out to you regarding any threatening online activity they encounter or get involved with.
While adults also fall victim to various cyber crimes, kids are more likely to be targeted because of their innate innocence and naturally trusting attitudes. Teach your children online etiquette and internet safety measures to raise them to be responsible technology users.