How to Keep Kids Cybersecure
6 October, 2021
Parents all over the world have one thing in common: They want what’s best for their children and they want them to succeed in life – the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed that. But while the time spent online and in front of tablets, smartphones and computers by kids was an issue even before the pandemic, online addiction has become an even bigger issue now.
A new global survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of NortonLifeLock discovered that half of UK adults (51%) say the amount of time they spend in front of a screen aside from work and school purposes has increased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, and about a quarter (26%) say they have become addicted to being online because of the pandemic
More importantly though is that nearly 9 in 10 adults in the UK believe most children are addicted to screens (89%) and that parents are relying too much on screens to keep their children busy (86%). Unsurprisingly then, the majority (70%) say it is absolutely essential or very important for parents to manage their children’s screen time usage, with 3 in 10 (30%) saying it is absolutely essential. 1
The biggest question though, is how. Most parents didn’t grow up surrounded by the technology their children take for granted and they are struggling to set ground rules for themselves, let alone their children. This is made even harder by the fact that the younger family members seem to know so much more about the internet and technology than their parents.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to set some ground rules, get involved in what your children are doing when spending time in front of their devices, and give them cyber safety advice. To help you out, we’ve put together some easy-to-follow tips that can help you and your children to spend some enjoyable time online without having to worry (too much):
Set a time budget for when children can be on (or off) their devices while at home.
The internet is huge. There is lots to see and discover. No wonder that it’s rather easy to spend a lot of time online – either by playing online games, chatting with friends, or watching videos on YouTube or Twitch. Try to remind your kids that there is a world outside of the internet and that there are more things to do than just surfing online and playing games. Be sure to also only allow your children access to the Internet (with the exception of doing homework) for a set, limited time each day.
This can be achieved with the help of parental control tools that you can install on their devices, or alternatively your router may allow the admin to limit the times specific devices can be online.
Say yes to social media, but decide where your children can sign up
At one point or another your kids will want to join a social media channel. You should make sure that you choose services that are appropriate for their age. Many social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok have a minimum age of 13 years. If you decide to allow your children to create a profile on one or more of these platforms, make sure to also help them with the signup process and filling out the various details required. This will help you to have more control and insight over what your kids are sharing. Make sure to also sit down with them and talk about online privacy and what’s safe to share, as well as what isn’t.
Talk about online privacy and security – but don’t forget to also listen
A good way to start any conversation with kids is to listen first. If you want to find out what they are doing online, why not ask them first? They will most likely be happy to show and tell you what apps they use, what games they play and what websites they visit. Make time to go online together to get a better understanding of what risks they might be exposed to, or what risks they are already aware of. See if they have their own ideas about how to protect themselves from online threats before you start educating them further.
Also don’t underestimate their ability to understand when you do get to talking about internet safety. Children are often way more tech savvy and aware of potential online dangers than you give them credit for. Nonetheless you should make sure to fill in where their knowledge ends: Explain what dangers they may encounter and why they especially shouldn’t share personal information with strangers. Your children will also understand the dangers better if you offer them practical, real-world examples. After all we all know at least one story about phishing emails, viruses, online scams or hacked accounts.
Use parental control to monitor kids online
You may not (and probably won’t) always be around to monitor your children. That’s where technology can help. Parental control allows you to monitor online activity, block children from accessing certain categories of sites, as well as set time restrictions.
Games and apps often have their own parental control, too. For example, Facebook’s Messenger Kids allows parents to control kids’ contacts and lets them monitor how they use the app via the Parent Dashboard. The same goes for different games such as Fortnite, World of Warcraft and Minecraft. They have their own sets of parental control which will help you to better protect your kid’s privacy.
Think inside the box
Make sure to have some times and places (like during meals) where no smartphones are allowed, and lead by example. To make sure that this rule is followed, you could install a small box which every family member puts their gadget inside before sitting down to eat. This way you can ensure there are no distractions and enjoy some quality family time together.
Protect your kids’ devices from threats like malware and more
Kids can be easily lured into clicking on links that they feel might be interesting or cool but that might lead them to fake websites or to downloading malicious software. One wrong click is enough to compromise a device, an email account or your online banking information if gadgets are left in children’s hands. Installing powerful antivirus protection like Norton 360 will help prevent malware, phishing scams and viruses from getting onto their and your devices – and from potentially infecting your entire home network.
These new findings serve as a second addendum to the 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report (NCSIR) examining the impact of cybercrime, in addition to the 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report: Special Release – Online Creeping uncovering consumers’ online creeping behaviours. Conducted in partnership with The Harris Poll, the 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report: Special Release – Home & Family surveyed more than 8,000 adults aged 18+ across eight countries to assess consumers’ at-home online behaviours.
To view the study’s full results and accompanying visual assets, please visit the 2021 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report: Special Release – Home & Family press kit at: https://www.nortonlifelock.com/about/newsroom.
1 Based on an online survey of 1,004 UK adults. Conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Norton™ LifeLock™, between May 20 through June 8, 2021.
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