Authored by Christina Schubert, Symantec employee
They text. They snap. They wouldn’t look up from their phones even if the apocalypse were upon them. They are today’s generation of device-addicted kids.
Parents all over the world know that the advantages of the Internet far outweigh its disadvantages. Children learn more, understand more and accomplish more with the aid of the Internet. In a recent survey conducted by Norton by Symantec, it was observed that globally, 60% of parents allow their children access to the Internet before age 11. Even though 78% of parents agree that children today face more online risks than children five years ago, only 50% check their children’s browser history and 46% limit access to certain websites and apps.1
This generation of parents is raising children in a rapidly evolving cyber landscape. Children naturally learn and adapt quickly, but even more so in this age of technology. Besides the numerous responsibilities that come with parenting, now parents have the additional burden of keeping up with their kids’ Internet habits and also guiding their children safely through the digital frontier.
Just as you have taught your child to look both ways before crossing the street, it is important to teach them a few essential cyber life skills.
1. Never leave your device unattended
One minute it’s there and the next minute it’s gone. Smartphones, laptops and tablets have a decent resale value. Besides, now cybercriminals make more money by stealing the data that’s stored in these devices than from reselling them. Information like passwords, addresses, birthdates of family members, and Social Security numbers fetch a pretty price in the underground economy. Criminals can patch together the information on all these devices to commit identity theft.
Children make excellent targets for device theft because there is a high probability for all this information to be on their devices due to school and sports activities that require this information. Teach your kids how valuable these devices are, and to keep them close.
2. Click with caution
Whether subtle or bold, phishing is dangerous. One careless click is all it takes for malicious software to get into devices and wreak havoc. Talk to your kids about not automatically clicking on links in emails. Show them how to hover your mouse over the link to make sure it is going to a reputable address. Spelling mistakes, odd emails from popular companies, and threatening messages urging quick action are some of the telltale signs of a phishing email designed to install malware on your device. When in doubt, do not click on the link. Instead go straight to the company’s website and contact the person concerned or the customer service department to ensure such a mail was sent to you. Fortunately, most high-quality antivirus software, like Norton Security, will catch these phony emails before they come to you.
3. Never ever share your password
You may think that everyone knows the importance of keeping passwords a secret — but maybe your children don’t. After all, 76% of people share passwords.1 It takes just one moment of poor decision-making and you risk exposing everything stored in your device. Teach your kids to protect accounts with strong, unique passwords that use a combination of at least 10 upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers to confuse password-stealing bots that scour the Web. Change your passwords every three months and don’t use the same password across different accounts. If it’s too difficult to remember all those passwords, then use a free password manager like Norton Identity Safe.
4. Be wary of using social media
Many social networks require users to be at least 13 years of age, but some allow children to sign up with their parent’s permission.
If your children have accounts, check their privacy settings. The default settings may expose more information than you’d like. Change settings to the highest level of privacy. You never know who is snooping around their social media profiles. Teach your kids not to accept friend requests from people they — and you — don’t know. Some friend requests come from bots that will spam friends lists.
There are many risks that come with social accounts, but stalking and bullying are two very real dangers that can haunt kids online and off. Publicly broadcasting your location is not the safest thing to do. To deter stalkers, disable location services on your child’s phone and apps.
5. Be a good online citizen
Remember, the Internet is forever. So anything said online stays online. Nothing really gets deleted, not even on Snapchat. Unfortunately, since the Internet is the new playground, bullying can plague children offline and on. Teach your children to practice good online etiquette and to never say mean things. Instead, they should be kind and not participate in negative posts. Let them know that the law protects cyberbullying victims, so they should tell you if they are being cyberbullied or know someone who is.
All of these are essential cyber safety skills, but kids are kids and mistakes can happen. As a parent, you can take preventive steps against this eventuality by helping to protect your child’s device with security software. Norton Security Premium is a great solution for securing the devices in your home. It comes with award-winning parental controls and a wide range of features to help your kids explore the digital world safely.