Cybersecurity for Kids

How on earth do explain to my kids about staying safe online. Do I tell them about the nasty man who wants to see pictures ? Do I tell them about the naughty people hiding in the shadows that want my kids to open things for them so they can look at mummy and daddy’s computer ?

 

Where do you start ?

 

Well the first thing I have done is to create their own logins (with parental controls applied) so they are now masters of their own destiny. It is also easier for me to log their movements. They know this and understand that if they have any problems, they can trust me to be able to look into their situation.

So tip 1) Make them accountable

 

Next logging in – My eldest child is VERY possessive of their writing and so they deliberately made their password harder for their younger sibling to guess. Aged 7 using an 8 character password with upper and lower case, numbers and otherwise. Even my youngest child is using upper and lower case characters.

Tip 2) Complex passwords / pass-phrases

 

Once logged in, the parental controls help limit what they can/can’t browse. There are a multitude of these in the marketplace as well as those built-in to Microsoft Windows 7 / Live. Although it is only a basic step, it reduces the likelihood of them viewing content they shouldn’t be seeing. It is not infallible, but we are looking at reducing risk. Allow them some control though – again, it will help them to still have usability of the internet and therefore won’t try to circumvent any security.

Therefore tip 3) Use parental controls to reduce the risks of what your child will be viewing

 

If you want to know what your children are doing on the internet … sit with them ! Show an interest in their computer use, suggest other sites. Think of safe sites (BBC, National Geographical, NASA), research them first. Show them how to use Google and other search engines to find safe sites (SafeSearch on etc). A bit of time and effort at the start and you will be starting them off on the right foot.

Tip 4) Invest some of your own time to help protect your children

 

OK, so your kids are now logging on, able to use the computer. But how do you get them to keep this good practise. At some point you need to talk about the bad guys. For this, there are plenty of online resources to demonstrate the dangers without them actually falling foul. Also, consider discussing situations – what if you post X on a social media page – how will that look to teachers / potential employers etc. This will be an invaluable lesson and you need to think about how to do this. Think about talking to your child’s school for advice and perhaps. This will then give a common view and reduce confusion about right and wrong habits.

So tip 5) Educate them about the bad guys

 

What do you do if you if you suspect your child has done something on the internet that they shouldn’t ? The big question … well the first thing is to talk to them about it and explain what the outcomes may be. The primary discussion is about them removing content or otherwise you should not do it alone as they could rebel and upload more content. So if they understand why they should remove the content, it should help them in the future. Let’s face it, we all get it wrong  at some point, don’t chastise them, help them realise how they should behave.

Tip 6) Help them when they go wrong.

 

By no means is this list infallible, but at least it’s a start. I encourage you to comment and offer your own suggestions as to how you tell your children about being safe online.

 

Summary :

Tip 1) Make them accountable

Tip 2) Complex passwords / pass-phrases

Tip 3) Use parental controls to reduce the risks of what your child will be viewing

Tip 4) Invest some of your own time to help protect your children

Tip 5) Educate them about the bad guys

Tip 6) Help them when they go wrong.

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