With the advent of technology, we have come a long way as parents. When home computers first became mainstream, we ourselves were probably in our teens. The first rule that was ingrained in us while using this device, this gateway to far flung places and people unknown, was to never give out one’s name, address or tell them one’s age and gender. These handful of rules basically boiled down to “Don’t talk to strangers”. Now, as time and technology has grown and we ourselves have become parents to kids and teens alike, such words of advice are nothing more than words that go from one ear and come out the other!
In fact, a preteen child would probably scoff at the very concept of keeping one’s identity a secret! For so is the maze of social media. It is all about being the next thing that goes viral.
The flip side to this is, in today’s day and age technology has become very important for sound education and for keeping in touch with loved ones who are currently living offshore. There can be no blanket ban for technology and its devices in a home just with the intent of protecting our kids. We shall be doing more harm than good by depriving and isolating them. The first step in sorting out any issue is knowing the enemy. Hence, there needs to be an awareness in regard to the hordes of predators that are online.
Internet Phishing Scams:
Many a times, our kids and teens come across a child of the same age and sex and location demographic and they bond or become friends online. This often leads to plans of meeting up in real life. They need to be made aware that there is a good chance this ‘person’ may just not be what they claim to be. It could very well be a predator with evil intents towards the child or teen.
Forum or Chat Board Peer Pressure:
Many of these ‘so called’ online friends may bully your child or teen into doing things that they are not comfortable doing. Pressure to share their photographs, home addresses, parents credit card or social security details are amongst the few that may be demanded off them. The peer pressure to perform these tasks and being labeled as ‘Chicken’ often leads to the kids and teens in making the wrong choices.
This is another sector that is slowly becoming an issue in this day and age, in recent case, a 9-year-old accessed his family’s credit card and booked himself a one-way ticket to Bali, Indonesia all by himself. The airline too was accepting of this young traveler.
Acces of Uncensored Content:
With the quality education our kids are getting in schools in regard to technology, it becomes very easy for them to override firewalls for censored content. Engaging with Bots that lead to Ransomware and Malware: Many a times, any application that the kids download, turns out to be a ransomware or a malware. This only makes us lose precious data that hasn’t been backed up but also leads to one having to change one’s IP address alongside your corrupted device.
To deal with these numerous issues, one needs to create a list of do’s and don’ts that need to be adhered to a Once applied, it shall increase your ward’s cyber security, protect their digital identity and also make sure that they come to no harm.
- Disable Location Services: Disabling location services on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and other social media sites is a must. Irrespective if one is posting photographs of a location visited (like a beach) or while one is simply sharing a view or a post.
- Set Up Firewalls: Firewalls in place on your home PC or tablet or any device is a must to keep out uncensored content that can corrupt young minds. Ensure That you add specific keywords related to the content that needs to be blocked along with video streaming channels and websites.
- Real Time Sudden Check Ups: Sudden and random checking of devices, PCs and Phones to ensure that the kids and teens are following rules may seem like an invasion of their privacy, but, it is a necessary step in keeping them safe.
- Set up a time schedule for accessing the Internet: We cannot keep the kids away from the Internet due to our fears. They need it to access not just their social media accounts with which they are connected not only with their friends and family, but also to complete their homework and research.
- Monitoring Application that are downloaded: A keen eye on what is being downloaded plays a great part in ensuring their safety and security. As in the unfortunate case of the now defunct ‘Blue Whale’ app, they too may be engaging in something that can turn their life upside down.
Also Read: Did You Know Most Hacks Go Unnoticed!
- Don’t share details before going on a vacation: It is not only a risk for the kids and teens in the family, but this vital piece of information can put your entire family’s life in jeopardy. Your house can be broken in and robbed and your belongings stolen! You can even be attacked on the way to your destination if you keep posting regular updates of your location in the middle of your journey.
- Don’t plan on meeting a stranger from the Internet: One of the most crucial things to avoid at all costs is to not meet or even plan to meet any stanger/friend that you have ‘met’ online. Amber alerts can do only so much.
- Don’t bully, and tell your parents if someone bullies you: No one is allowed to make you do things that one is uncomfortable doing. If a child or a teen ever feels pressured into doing something that they know is wrong, they must at once confide in their parents. ( a word of advice to all parents. Trust your child and focus on the issue at hand and not how the situation manages to escalate so much)
- Don’t share your details with anyone: This certainly needs to be your new family mantra, especially when using the Internet. Under no circumstances should one share their names, age, location, phone number, IP addresses or even one’s mother’s maiden name. These are all key instruments in compromising one’s digital identity.
There can be a number of things that we can do to make sure that our kids and teens remain safe. But, one of the most important thing to keep in mind is by monitoring them online, we take that extra step that shall protect them from majority of the evil in the world. Be safe, be secure.