Our generation faces a tricky dilemma – our children are true digital natives, spending more time online than anyone could have ever imagined while we, on the other hand, grew up with only TVs for ‘screen time’.
Of course, this comes with a whole set of challenges. It’s hard for parents these days to know how much is too much, which safety measures to put in place and which signs to look out for. When it comes to raising these digital natives, we’re pioneers, too.
“Children don’t view the online world as new technology like some of us do – to children, it has always existed,” says Luis Corrons, global security expert at Avast. “Therefore, they don’t approach their interaction online with the caution that we might. They only see a screen that reacts to their button taps, innocently unaware of the invisible risks at play.
“That’s not to say we should scare them but we do need to remind kids how to use the internet and ensure they use the internet safely and confidently and empower them to protect themselves.”
It’s becoming more and more common for schools to ask their students to complete classes and homework online, so the school term can bring concerns about online safety to the forefront.
Here are the eight things Avast says parents should focus on to keep their kids safe online this term.
- Ensure your children know to avoid posting any personal information online. This includes their full name, home address, email address, and phone number.
- Learn where the privacy settings are on each website you use and adjust them all to their highest settings. Get in the practice of always doing this.
- Remember that everything you post online lives there forever, so remind your children to think twice before uploading pictures and videos of themselves (or family or friends) or posting comments they may regret later. Same goes for you, parents!
- Keep their passwords secret from everyone except your parents. If anyone asks your child for their passwords online, make sure they know not to give it to them and to tell you right away.
- Remember that not everyone is who they say they are online. It’s too easy to pretend you’re someone else. For that reason, ensure your children know to shy away from befriending any strangers online, and never make plans to meet with someone they don’t know.
- Speak frankly about cyberbullying. Make them aware of the signs of cyberbullying on social media, and encourage them to notify a responsible adult if they see it happening.
- Respect other people’s views. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, including you and your child. Tell them that they can feel free to state what they believe, but to do so without being rude or mean.
- Ask them: ‘how do you feel?’ Make sure your kids know that if they see or hear anything online that makes them uncomfortable, they should stop interacting with the app or website and speak to a trusted adult about it right away.
“These topics should be ongoing conversations with your children, not just during the school term,” says Luis. “Check in on their digital life just as you would check in on their (school) day and other aspects of their lives. Show them this is an area of serious concern, but one that can be easily managed with proper online habits, smart choices, and good communication.”