Online safety is a big concern for the modern-day parent. Children live within a world predominantly defined by their ability to access the digital community within seconds. Thanks to the rise of portable devices such as smartphones and virtually ubiquitous Internet connectivity, this generation of children can enjoy freedoms which would have been impossible to imagine 20 years ago.
Unfortunately, there are also some very real safety concerns like inappropriate material, their information being compromised by third parties or unwittingly downloading a system-crippling virus from a questionable website. Safety and security should always represent top priorities for parents and other adult role models. What steps can be taken? Is it possible to find a balance between enjoyment and prudence within the online community? These are two of the questions which this article will discuss.
Appreciating Mobile Concerns
A recent survey highlighted the fact that no fewer than 46 per cent of adolescents between the ages of 12 and 16 feel that they have become addicted to their mobile devices. There are several concerns with such a startling situation. First and foremost, their mental health may be placed in jeopardy due to feelings of isolation from the outside world. This is why parents should make it a point to limit the amount of time that their children are allowed to access the Internet.
Secondly, it can be easy for a child to unknowingly download an app that has not being vetted by the appropriate authorities. It should therefore be made clear that only trusted sites such as Google Play and the Apple Store are allowed when browsing. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the parent in question to ensure that any application is safe and suitable before it is installed. Children who are taught about these potential dangers at an early age are more likely to develop prudent habits in the future.
Implement Parental Controls
All parents should seek to limit the type of content that their children can access. The good news is that all modern devices are equipped with parental controls. These can normally be accessed via the control panel or when navigating to the administrative settings. The limitations themselves can be based off content, downloading capacity, region, as well as a host of other variables. Parents should also explain to their children the importance of these controls so that they are not mistakenly viewed as more draconian measures.
The Notion of “Share Aware”
Many websites will ask visitors to provide their basic information when registering for the first time. This can include (but may not be limited to) full name, email address, physical location and what type of device they are using to access the page. Although such details are often used as rather innocuous cookies, there can be times when it falls into the wrong hands.
This is why children should never be allowed to share their details (or the details of the household) with unrecognised or unknown websites. The risks associated with data theft are quite serious. Make it a point to explain these dangers so that they appreciate why certain pages may be off limits.
Correctly Disposing of Old Devices
We live in a rather disposable digital world. Smartphone and laptop updates occur multiple times every year. This means that outdated devices are often discarded. However, this may also present a problem. A discarded device which contains pervious browsing history or important personal details can easily be hacked. It is critical to ensure that any e-waste is destroyed in the correct manner. There are specific professional services which will safely dispose of outdated devices while ensuring that any data is destroyed during the process.
The Use of a Virtual Private Network
Virtual private networks (VPNs) are also wise choices to employ. These systems provide a greater sense of anonymity as they effectively mask the IP address of the user. Not only does this add an extra layer of protection, but a VPN will likewise encrypt any data that is sent or received; protecting sensitive information along the way.
Back to the Basics
On a final note, a handful of basic suggestions are always worth mentioning. Here are some professional tips to teach children at an early age:
- Always create a strong password that is not likely to be duplicated.
- Never deactivate the anti-virus software; even if it appears to be making the device function slower.
- Do not download any strange or unfamiliar materials.
- Never open an email sent from an unknown source.
Parents should likewise check to make certain that their anti-virus software is up to date and functioning properly. Keeping children safe while they browse online is not necessarily a complicated process. However, the recommendations mentioned above are nonetheless extremely powerful tools at your immediate disposal.
Author Bio: This article was written by Geni D’Arcy, Global Head of HR at Wisetek. Wisetek are specialists in removing sensitive data from laptops and hard drives.