It's a scary world out there. By out there I mean the cyber world we enter every time we tweet, post, like, google or pin. I would venture to say that as a parent, it is even scarier. With the number of hours our children spend on devices these days, every click potentially opens them up to dangers that as parents we need to ensure we are protecting them from.
Cue the team at ESET who recruited our team at PTPA Media to survey parents on children's digital safety. Their goal was to identify key concerns that parents had and make sure there was a way to ensure their safety online.
Over 1,230 respondents participated in the survey from across North America and the number one concern that was highlighted by parents was child predators. Tied in second place was their children visiting inappropriate sites and their children sharing too much information about themselves and their family.
The survey also found that there were mixed feeling among parents in terms of how much they trust their children online. 29% of parents said they always trust their children online while 10% said they never do and 61% said they trust them sometimes. This indicates that we as parents would likely feel better if we could keep an eye on our kids while they are online.
The survey also addressed whether parents felt that it was okay to install a monitoring tool on their children's devices without the child's knowledge. Clearly George Orwell and the concept of big brother was on the right track because 80% of parents thought it was OK to do so. Our survey also showed that parents feel it is primarily their responsibility to educate their children about the dangers of the online world with educators coming in second and technology companies coming in third.
Taking all of this information into account, where does a parent start? Especially a less tech-savvy parent. A good first step can be installing monitoring apps like ESET's newest parental controls app. This allows you to restrict access to certain web sites, block inappropriate apps, send a must read message to your children, determine your child's location, and limit how much time they can spend on their devices. This is the bare minimum we should be doing to teach them about online safety, but there is much more that we can do.
Your internet services provider likely offers you some internet safety features built into their home service as well which is worthwhile looking into.
But software is just a starting point, and that's why we have put together these 5 tips to help ensure that we keep those little people we adore so much, safe from the cyber world.
1) Location, location, location: Whenever possible, have your computer or laptop set up in a public area of the home so that you can causally stroll by and see what your children are up to online. Institute a
family rule that tablets and mobile phones are using in the living room only.
2) Staying on top of social: Always get a list of your children's social media usernames and passwords,
consider "friending" them on their social networks, and talk to them about being responsible when setting up these accounts. Have them show you the sites and apps they are using, and let them be the "teacher."
3) Share with one, share with them all: Educate your children about their digital footprint and what is
appropriate to share online. Ensure they understand that anything they post, regardless of whether they
have a private or public account, can be shared and will stay online forever.
4) Take action: Install parental control software on your child's mobile device. Have a conversation with
them about the fact that you are trying to protect them rather than invade their privacy. There are all sorts of digital tools that can help monitor and protect your child and their device -- take advantage of them!
5) Teach critical thinking and reward it: Demonstrate how to identify safe, credible websites and other
digital content. Encourage them to be cautious about clicking on suspicious links and speaking to people they do not know. Encourage the positive by praising their good choices and remaining engaged about what communities, games or apps they enjoy.
These are starting points that at a bare minimum we need to be doing as parents. The Internet can be an amazing source of information but an incredibly scary place to share the ins and outs of our lives. Use with caution.