Parenting has changed. In this modern, digital age, parents (and other adult caregivers such as grandparents, aunts, au pairs, nannies, after-school moms) are facing a much more difficult challenge than the usual concerns of generations past where protecting their children from physical dangers was the main concern.
These days parents have to protect kids online too, and there is no doubt that in the digital age of today there are far more opportunities for danger than before – just of a completely different nature and far less obvious!
To help parents tackle this quagmire of technology and the dangers they present, I asked Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa, to share a few tips on age-appropriate online safety and how parents can teach their children how to handle various situations.
What is appropriate for a toddler is not relevant for a six-year old so Carey shares how you can protect kids online and focus your online security appropriately over the stages of childhood.
Tips on How to Protect Kids Online
This is a tough age as children are so young. Many parents may even feel that online security is not applicable to them. However, what happens doing these formative years can have a huge impact on your kids for the rest of their lives. With technology being introduced from such a young age – sometimes as young as three – it is essential you are ‘on top of your game’ to keep your children safe and secure.
- Ensure that your devices are password protected so that children can’t accidentally go online when you are out of sight.
- Invest in parental control software – this powerful technology is a real asset when it comes to safety.
- Start talking about online safety and set boundaries. For example, stress the importance of not talking to strangers online and set limits to device usage.
Ages 5 – 9
Between the ages of 5-9, there is a decided shift in the way parents and children view technology.
- Continue with the previous tips, adjusting, for example, some of the settings on your parental control app.
- Ensure that your children are accessing age-appropriate content (films, video games and, nowadays, apps).
- If your children have their own devices, ensure that there are limits to what can be done/accessed.
This age group is where children begin to develop their tech skills, as well as gain a better understanding of technology and the internet – they know shortcuts, have favourite websites and are even active on social media. It is also the age where children will start to really ask questions and query things and where there is a desire to take ownership and responsibility over their devices and what they view online.
- Reinforce why you limit usage and why you have restrictions in place – it is not about control, but about safety and what you deem appropriate for their age.
- Shift the focus of your conversation with your children to topics such as privacy and cybercrime. Your kids are among the most vulnerable groups online.
- Reiterate the importance of security – from passphrases to two-factor authentication and encryption, there is plenty of ways to stay protected.
The teenage years are about give and take – as hard as it is to accept, your baby boy or girl is now a mature youngster, capable of looking after themselves and keen to be more independent. Equally, on the flip side, they’re still young, dependent on you for many things and in need of constant guidance, as well as age-appropriate boundaries.
- Trust is essential– on both sides. This way, you as a parent, can feel confident about letting your kids get on with their lives, while not having to look over their shoulder constantly.
- Your ongoing conversation with your kids will need to change and take on more adult topics – things to bring up at this age are cyberbullying, sexting and the threat of online predators.
- As you may have done with other things – like buying clothes and spending money on leisurely activities – let them take control of things like app, music or film purchases (setting limits of course).
- Point out that certain activities, which they may consider harmless, are in fact illegal – something that parents themselves need a better understanding of.
How do you protect kids online in your home? I’d love to hear your tips so please leave a comment below!
Since 1987, ESET® has been developing record award-winning security software that now helps over 100 million users Enjoy Safer Technology®. Its broad security product portfolio covers all popular platforms and provides businesses and consumers around the world with the perfect balance of performance and proactive protection. The company has a global sales network covering 180 countries, and regional offices in Bratislava, San Diego, Singapore, Buenos Aires and Cape Town. For more information visit www.eset.co.za or follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.
*Not a sponsored post – just sharing the info as I found it useful!