A friend told me that she needed to sit her 9-year-old boy down the other day, and educate him on the internet security risks out in the big bad world. 9 years old!
Growing up, we knew the “talk” was coming, but it generally floated around the “birds and the bees”. Today, while that topic is still very relevant, and sadly needed earlier and earlier, the risks that the internet and being online poses, is just as important.
Being online does not only mean watching YouTube, although the youth are crazy about this portal. It also means having a cell phone, and playing on certain television games, such as PS4, Xbox, and WiiU. As a parent, we need to be aware of the dangers and security risks that are very rife via these and other platforms.
With almost 100% of teens utilising the World Wide Web and close to 80% owning cell phones, the chances of them being exposed, on some level, to a cyber bully, or paedophile, are very high.
Before you make that decision to sit them down and have that conversation around internet security risks, we suggest you read through our quick tips.
1. Educate yourself first
Our kids are super smart these days, especially when it comes to everything tech. They more than likely know more than you, so revving up your education around all that revolves around the internet and the risks, the better this conversation will go. While American-based, Common Sense Media is a great place to start. They give you a few easy ways in which to communicate with your kids and be ready for the questions that will definitely follow.
2. Don’t assume they know
Perhaps your child is a teen already, and you think they probably know all about the internet risks and more. Well, rather err on the side of caution. You may get that response we know so well, “Dad! I know all about that already!” But, rather check first. And, even if they respond in that manner, ask them a few pertinent questions, to make sure they really are aware of the dangers.
3. Parental Controls are a must, but tell them about it
There are many parental control applications that you can purchase and install. The one we recommend is ESET Parental Control, which keeps your children safe online, in a friendly way.
Installing the controls is one thing, but you need to inform your kids about it too. Explaining to them that it’s for their own protection is the right way to broach that subject.
4. Create Family Rules
From how much time is allowed online to what content they are allowed to engage and connect to, should form part of your family rules. As the parent, you too could establish rules that apply to you and the other members of the family unit. This could work around the time factor, so that there is always that “happy hour” where no one at all is online. Dinner, TV, or going out into the open air, are good alternatives to being online, and will help you spend more time together.
5. What are good pointers to bring up?
A few pertinent points to bring into the conversation are:
- Don’t believe everything you read or see on the internet
- If you someone tries to engage with you, no matter what age they say they are, let us know
- If you are feeling trapped and uncomfortable, disengage with the person
- Be open and honest with us, always, and we will do the same