Parents are constantly told to teach their kids about ‘online safety’. But what, exactly, should we be saying?
For me, in a dismal attempt at educating my Fortnite-obsessed 10-year-old son, Maxwell, it’s an awkward conversation that goes something like this:
Me: “So, you know some men (and women) go online and pretend they are a kids, don’t you?”
Maxwell: “Yes I know mum, but on Fortnite you can hear their voices so I know it’s not an adult. And I only speak to kids I am friends with in real life, anyway.”
Me: “OK then. Glad we had that chat.”
Now, I’m pretty sure the ‘online safety’ message should be a little more detailed than that. But how? What exactly should parents be teaching their kids about online safety?
Glad you asked!
Because the experts in online safety, Norton, have prepared these online safety tips to the parents who are educating the kids. Got that?
So here it is – the nuts and bolts of exactly what parents should be teaching their kids about online safety.
1. What is online safety? And what should you say to your kids?
The Norton cyber experts say actions speak louder than words.
“Don’t just tell them to be careful, show them why they should be cautious online. One of the best ways to approach this is to regularly do something with your child online that they enjoy doing.”
I’ve played multiple video games with Maxwell online including Minecraft and Fortnite, checked out Instagram and Facebook, navigated the maze of ‘advertising links’ and even uploaded videos to YouTube (as a private account). And we’ve done plenty of online shopping on ‘mummy’s credit card’.
Maybe I’m not as silly as I thought! We discussed the ‘fake followers’ of Instagram and how people think numbers and perfectly filtered images are ok – but they are not. We’ve discussed fake news on YouTube and Facebook as well as advertising and marketing links – and sensational claims!
Chat rooms are next …
Norton’s tool: Norton Family Premier will monitor usage while having positive and educational experiences. Parents can also visit the Office of the eSafety Commissioner’s iParent portal for educational resources on online safety.
2. Focus on screen time quality.
Using screens for good, not evil, is obviously every parents objective. But I must admit there have been times over the school holidays when I’ve been trying to work and look after children and whoa, what do you know, eight hours went by … and I’m pretty sure Maxwell was battling in Fortnite for most of that time.
So what’s ‘quality screen time? Thirty minutes spent creating artwork on screen could be more valuable than thirty minutes spent playing a video game. A Reading Eggs challenge. Maths apps for kids. Chilling out to storyline online (my fave!). Checking out the stars on an astronomy app. Get the gist?
3. Protect your devices against cyber criminals via the latest software updates.
Not one of my Top 1000 skills, I must admit.
But it should be, since hackers hijacked my blog a few years ago and it cost me a whole load of time, money, stress and readers … grrrr.
Thank goodness my partner is a web developer because even the jokers at my hosting site could not fix what this globe hopping hacker syndicate was doing.
So if your child has a penchant for ‘downloading new games’, you need to be on top of this. That means updating your operating systems and apps with the latest versions and patches to help address any security vulnerabilities that could expose you to a cyber attack.
4. Teach your kids about phishing.
Phishing… what the heck is phishing!?
I may or may not have found out the hard way when I received a text saying I’d won some lotto draw that I never entered. Ooh, lucky me! Or not…
Tell your kids not to click on ANY suspicious links that are supposedly from their bank, mates or social network. And that goes for unsolicited links sent to their phones, too.
Norton’s tool: Get a security program that recognises and blocks dodgy URLs, like Norton Security Premium.
5. Use a password management system.
Hands up if you use the same password for multiple things? And, just channelling my psychic abilities here but as a random guess, is the password a birth date?
Yep, you and 5 million other people!
Now, naturally the pros to recycling the same password is that you are likely to remember it. The downside is of course that if any of those sites get hacked into, hackers can use that same password on anything else you own – like your bank account, for example.
So if a flimsy password is the only barrier between you and the Cyber crims, bolster it. Add numbers, caps, letters, symbols… Norton’s tool: Invest in a password management program, like Norton Password Manager – you will only need to remember one password but can access them all.
6. Keep social networks more secure.
Just about every Tom, Dick and Harriet have had a social networking account hacked. I’ve lost track of my Facebook friends who have suddenly started posting sex performance drugs, illegal supplements and other random items on their pages. Another friend had someone replicate her Facebook page (just one letter was different from the original) and pinch her profile photo, then re-friend everyone in her network. I sent her a direct message asking why she was sending me a friend request when we were already friends and wow, the interesting broken English conversation that followed even surprised me…
The short story (even my kids can’t be bothered listening to my long stories sometimes!): If a friend posts something or sends you a message or link that seems out of character or too good to be true, then be wary. Your friend’s account may have been hacked.
7. Identify and avoid potential Wi-Fi threats.
Who’d have thought, hey?
Not me, clearly, because I have connected to just about every free Wi-Fi service in Sydney. Oh, and a few international airports, hotels, cafes, shopping centres…
So what’s the threat? Well, Wi-Fi networks are another possible entry point for hackers. At home, make sure your Wi-Fi network has a hard-to-crack password that you change regularly. And rethink those public Wi-Fi networks. Alternatively, find out about virtual private networks (VPN) when using Wi-Fi on the go. They will help protect your privacy.
8. Don’t forget mobile devices.
Your phone and tablet need as much security protection as your PC. Make sure you’ve got a full security solution that covers your mobile devices as well. Put a passcode on your tablets and phones, too.
ABOUT NORTON: These tips were kindly supplied by Norton Security. Protect all your digital devices with comprehensive security software like Norton Security Premium. It can help you get peace of mind without sacrificing your family’s ability to learn and stay connected. It’s your single solution that helps protect multiple devices, including PCs, Macs, smartphones and tablets.