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Wednesday, Dec 11, 2019

Children’s Day 2019: Tips on how to keep your kids safe online

Along with the myriad benefits associated with the internet, it also comes with its set of risks such as inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and risk of online predators.

education Updated: Nov 14, 2019 10:06 IST
Sunil Sharma
Sunil Sharma
Using apps or websites that children frequent, predators may pose as a child or teen looking to make friends.
Using apps or websites that children frequent, predators may pose as a child or teen looking to make friends. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
         

Don’t you love celebrating your kid’s achievements and boasting about it on social media? Well, you are no exception. As per a recent survey, about 55% of urban Indian parents said they are unsure and ill-prepared in terms of surfing the internet securely. Yet, 61% of these parents claim to have prepared their children in this area. In fact, they are so sure about having taught their kids right that 60% of them don’t even monitor the content their children are exposed to.

Along with the myriad benefits associated with the internet, it also comes with its set of risks such as inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and risk of online predators. Using apps or websites that children frequent, predators may pose as a child or teen looking to make friends. They might prod the child to exchange personal information, such as their home address, phone number, or encourage kids to call them. In such a scenario, informed parents will make for informed kids. Therefore, it is critical that parents start early on in their digital education as this can save them heartache and nasty surprises down the line as their young ones grow up.

As with most cybersecurity issues, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to protecting kids online - there needs to be layers of protection in place to address the complexities at hand. Let’s start by empowering our kids with the right cybersecurity tips to stay secure in the virtual world.

As a parent, here are some questions you should ask yourself:

# Do you have protective measures in place on the technology your children use? If they have social media, are their profiles locked down from public view?

# Have you talked to your child about not sharing their accounts or passwords? (Passwords should stay secret, and accounts should never be shared with anyone else, not even your closest buddies.)

# Have you talked to your children about appropriate behaviour online, what kind of sharing is okay and what kind is not, and why?

# Do you know who your child is interacting with online? Are they only people they know in person?

# Do you and your children know what kinds of questions can be red flags? Not just obvious things like asking for their name and address, but also where they go to school, what kinds of landmarks they might live near, their parents’ names; even problems they’re having - predators use this kind of information to establish trust and try to meet in person.

# Do your children feel safe talking to you about what they’re experiencing online, and do they feel comfortable telling you if something feels wrong?

That said, it is incumbent upon parents to not only put protective measures in place and to establish trust with their children, but also to know how to spot the warning signs of exploitation, or bullying. For instance Sophos Home provides parental web filtering that allows you to control the content your children can view online. This can help you to keep a track of what your children are viewing online and also understand if the sites are malicious or not.

Tips to keep your kids safe online:

1. Location Permission: Think for a moment before you post something and remember that once it’s online it’s out there for everyone to see. If you wouldn’t be comfortable with your parents, a teacher, or future employer reading that post, perhaps it shouldn’t go online in the first place.

2. Share Wisely: Whether you’re talking to someone or using an app or a service, it’s crucial to protect your personal information (your full name, your birthdate, or where you go to school), and your location (like where you live, or where you frequently hang out with your friends).

3. Always Use Password Manager: It might seem like the easy thing to do - less typing and remembering, right? - but using the same password on every service and app is a really bad idea. The solution is really easy: Use unique, strong passwords on every site and app you use. You can use your browser or mobile device’s built-in password manager, or a third-party manager to do this.

4. Two Factor Authentication: Make sure you, password protect your phone or any other device you use. And lock it when you’re not using it. Use 2FA on your accounts to keep hackers out.

5. Check before you click: Don’t click on suspicious-looking links. If something looks strange to you, ask a parent or teacher if it’s ok to click on it.

6. Always log out: Make sure you don’t leave any account open when you go away from your computer, phone or other device.

7.And finally, if it doesn’t look right, speak up! If you think something is suspicious or if you see something upsetting online, tell a parent or teacher, or report it to the website you’re trying to use.

(Sunil Sharma is Managing Director Sales at Sophos India and SAARC. Views expressed here are personal.)