As an information security expert, I’m accustomed to the daily fight that any IT professional faces. From phishing attacks to sophisticated new viruses, it is my job to stay on top of the digital threat landscape.
But as a parent of six wonderful children, I’ll be honest: it’s probably even more difficult to ensure your kids are safe online against predatory practices. On one hand, we want our children to be curious, to seek out new information and learn about the world around them. On the other, we want to be as certain as possible that they’re protected online. Given the vast and growing threats in the digital age, we all must take the necessary steps to keep our young ones safe.
4 Critical Questions About Protecting Your Kids Online
These are some of the most common – and most fundamental – questions that parents have about their children’s internet use:
- What’s the appropriate age for kids to begin using the internet and personal electronic devices?
- How can we create barriers between our kids and online predators?
- Is it OK to periodically review our kids’ applications and interactions, including friends’ lists?
- Is there an interactive, hands-on way to talk about cyber safety with our kids?
All of these questions are critical, and any parents of young ones should be asking them. But more importantly, these questions need to be answered sufficiently. So what steps can we take?
4 Actions to Keep Your Children Safe
All of us, as parents, should follow these key steps to better safeguard our kids against cyber predators:
- Set boundaries. Define which devices your kids are allowed to use, which features and sites they can access and how much time they can spend on their devices per day.
- Be involved. Know which sites your kids are visiting, which apps they are using and with whom they’re interacting. This means not only talking to them about the use of technology, but occasionally inspecting their devices.
- Be a teacher. It never ceases to amaze me how much kids know about technology and the internet. Sometimes is scares me. But don’t assume your kids truly understand the associated risks. As a parent, work earnestly to teach them about being smart – and safe – online.
- Stay informed. Regularly seek out information on emerging cyber crime trends. Doing so with help you develop an understanding of the risks associated with online security concepts such as information sharing, location services, phishing and identity theft.
Taking Advantage of Available Resources
Here are a few terrific websites on keeping kids safe online to help get you started:
- ConnectSafely https://www.connectsafely.org/
- StaySafeOnline.org https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/for-parents/raising-digital-citizens
- SafeKids.com http://www.safekids.com/child-safety-on-the-information-highway/
For parents who are truly invested in the safety of their children, especially online, there is no more valuable tool than education. The more time you invest in learning about the risks and protective measures – and sharing that knowledge with your kids – the better prepared you’ll be to not only engage them, but to actually keep them safe.