In the know: most parents are talking about security with their kids

Times have changed, and if you thought that kids and parents weren’t seeing eye to eye on the field of security, apparently, that issue has changed, too, as a recent Trend Micro survey points out.

“With mobile devices being such a huge part of everyday life for Australian youth, and children spending so much time online, it is crucial for parents to be highly aware of how they can best protect their kids,” said Trend Micro’s Tim Falinski, Director for the company’s efforts in the consumer category for Australia and New Zealand.

That’s a statement we’ve always agreed with, and every time we’ve spoken to security experts from security companies, that has been the topic of conversation: getting families to embrace security and talk about it within their unit.

Five years ago, that was a problem, as mobile usage was on the increase and we all relied on a computer in our lives in a regular capacity. At this point, experts would say that the kids knew more than the parents, with the adults at home struggling to talk to their kids about issues of online bullying, downloading illegal material, visiting websites they may or may not be mature enough to check out, and back then the problem of malware and viruses.

But now, it’s a different thing altogether, with Trend Micro reporting that more and more parents are talking to their kids about security, especially when it comes to understanding mobile phones and the security around them.

A survey of 1010 parents for the security company in June this year has found that 81% of those surveyed understand they need to talk to their kids about staying safe online, and do so. Interestingly, less than half of those have admitted their children probably don’t understand online safety.

“It is reassuring to see the results that Australian parents are educating their children about how to stay safe online,” said Falinski, adding “however with 32% of parents feeling that their children don’t understand online safety, clearly there is still a way to go with educating children on using the internet safely.”

Ages are also an important thing, because we’re all using mobile devices in some form or another, and until monitor-based smartwatches are popular enough that you can buy them easily and monitor the location of your kids from afar — and there is a product for this out now — chances are that your little ones will need a phone.

Out of the parents surveyed, there seems to be an average of 10.6 years for the right time to give a child a mobile phone, but even if they don’t have one, chances are that your phone will at one point be passed to them, reintroducing the problem of mobile security except with your data.

That’s a fact bolstered by the survey, which showed that half of 3 to 7 year olds are using their parents’ devices, with kids ages between 8 and 15 spending between one and three hours on a mobile product, with those in the 3 to 11 bracket mostly relying on tablets, while the 12-15 area has them on smartphones.

If you haven’t worked it out, games are a big reason of why kids are using phones, with education coming second.

“With the benefits available to us through mobile devices, it’s great to see Australian children are using them for a variety of reasons that impact their lives in a positive way: everything from entertainment to education,” Falinski continued.

“As the use of mobile devices becomes more and more prevalent in the everyday lives of our kids, it’s crucial we teach them how to stay smart online in addition to taking the necessary measures, like ensuring the devices are secure against vulnerabilities and online attacks,” he said.

One of the ways parents can obviously help with this is the continued discussion, as well as the inclusion of mobile security on devices. If you have kids with a phone or tablet, start talking about security and what they can do, and what you all should be doing to learn about how to stay safe online.

And as always, make sure the devices have some form of security on them, because with our lives so dependent on computers and smartphones, the last thing anyone wants is for that digital trust to be broken, especially if you’re growing up with technology.