Online Safety for Children
With school learning shifting online, your children are exposed to potential risks in cyberspace. Your kids may be re-establishing in-person friendships and making new ones online. With social media being a major medium in many of these friendships, ensuring cyber safety and keeping yourself updated with your child's internet security is of paramount importance.
Create awareness:
It is important for parents to first educate themselves about what happens online. Cyberbullying solicitation, webcam spying, credit card phishing, emotional blackmail, life-threatening online games like the Blue Whale are extremely dangerous, especially for children. Parents must educate younger children about the basics of staying safe online. It should be a mandate for schools to regularly update the children about online risks. As a part of the drive to educate parents and schools alike, Ministry of Home Affairs, India has published a handbook for adolescents/students on cybersafety https://www.mha.gov.in/sites/default/files/CyberSafety_English_Web_03122018_0.pdf
Protect the child's identity:
Parents should coach their children to never reveal personal information such as name, home address, or telephone number, to anyone they do not know personally. Most of the stalkers contact them through email, Twitter, Facebook, online chat rooms or bulletin boards. Parents should note that most children who are under age for creating profiles on various social media platforms end up creating fake identities under peer pressure. If the children have social media profiles, parents should have access to their usernames, passwords and also be their followers/friends on social media, to be aware of their online behaviour as well as dangers that could harm the child.
Protect your computer:
Parents must regularly update internet security software to protect their family against scammers, hackers, and other online threats. These unforeseen elements can compromise your computer system and, consequently, put your family at risk. Using software security with automatic updates keeps your technology current and decreases the likelihood of online attacks.
Create guest accounts and unique passwords:
To further strengthen online safety, parents should encourage kids to use guest accounts and passwords for every online account. This helps in preventing others from accessing their personal information. Besides, parents should also monitor each account and educate the children about using strong passwords. The best practices line including symbols, numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters should be made a norm. Using names, dates or words that could be hacked should never be allowed.
Passwords to protect your WiFi:
Whether at home or in public, always make it a habit to use trusted internet services which require a password to log on to. Parental controls should be robust to prevent the installation of objectionable apps (with spyware/malware) or browsing inappropriate content.
Never share passwords:
When children are young and unaware, they tend to share content or passwords with their friends and peers. Doing so puts all of their personal information at risk, and if they share other private details online, it could lead to cyberbullying and trolling. Setting up a two-step authentication would help in tracking and mitigating bad behaviours online.
Keep the children out of online chat rooms:
Prohibit interaction of your children with strangers and make sure your children know that no matter how nice the online “friend,” they may not be who they appear to be. As a parent do your best to reinforce the old rule “never talk to strangers,” especially online.
With growing online crime rates and children being the fastest growing victim group, it is a need for parents to be vigilant at all times. You can expect grumpiness and grumbling from children when you limit or shut down some access that they were privy to earlier or were expecting with the new online norms. However, they will thank you for keeping them safe when they grow older and understand the dangers of the online world.
Make sure you share these online safety tips with other parents.