Security tip: talk to your kids about the Internet

If you’ve got a family, Cyber Security Awareness Week is about more than just your security, but the online security of your entire family. Luckily, there are some tips to start the conversation and get everyone talking.

“Today, it’s not uncommon to hear of children who can ‘out-tech’ their parents,” said BitDefender’s Mihaela Masdrag, “thanks to the IT integration in school curriculums which are preparing students for the digital world.”

Most kids are well prepared for computers and mobile devices because of the simple fact that they’re growing up with it more closely than most of us ever have. With touchscreen devices practically dominating the planet, children are interacting with net-connected devices without necessarily understanding the implications of what they do.

“Kids and teens have never known a world without the internet, while parents and grandparents are often struggling to keep pace with ever changing technologies,” said Richard Bean, Deputy Chairman of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s Cybersmart program. “One of the most important things that families can do to understand the online environment is talk to each other about how they interact online.”

Start talking to your kids about posting too much information about themselves on social networks, or even thinking before they click on attachments. Encourage them to talk openly with what’s happening online with you, and let them know that because your their parent, that some of the responsibility for what happens to them online rests with you, and you’re only looking out for what’s best.

“It’s clearly important for parents to provide their children with some guidelines and education on how to communicate best online given the pervasiveness of the medium,” said Sean Kopelke, Director Strategic Solutions for Symantec’s Asia Pacific division. “Education is the first line of defence because sometimes it simply is a case of children being unaware of how their actions are impacting others.”

One of the largest suppliers of internet security software, Symantec suggests parents install an app to social media accounts of their children, allowing them to be more across what the little ones say and do.

“Another solution is to educate children on how to react and handle any bullying that may occur online as it can easily get out of control if nothing is reported,” said Mr. Kopelke. “Most kids fear the repercussions of sharing their negative online experiences with their parents, in that, they might be denied access to connected devices, online games or social media as a result. Parents should talk to their kids regularly, set rules and limits but also, make their kids feel comfortable about sharing online experiences with them.”