Keeping kids safe online is so important now that technology has made it easy to access information and connect with the world! From stranger danger online to phishing and ransomware attacks, kids and young adults are exposed to a host of cyber security threats every time they go online. But you can protect your kids! The cyber security experts at ESET explain all about keeping kids safe online.
In the digital age, kids and teenagers are increasingly tech- and internet-savvy. According to the Australian Institute of Family Services, 97% of households with children under the age of 15 have access to the internet, and 99% of young people aged 15-17 are regular internet users. Additionally the ABC reports that Australian school children spend more time online than their counterparts in any other OECD country.
Keeping kids safe online: The biggest threats
The first step in keeping kids safe online is understanding the threats that they are exposed to everyday. Whether your child is interested in online gaming, frequents forum-type sites such as Reddit, or engages with YouTube or other social media channels, chances are they face the same cyber security threats.
Far from being a thing of the past, stranger danger is well and truly a concern in the 21st century. Stranger danger online is equally – if not more – concerning than in-person threats, as it’s often difficult to police who your child is talking to online. Unfortunately, it’s fairly simple for cyber aggressors or users with unsavoury intent to assume a false identity in order to gain your child’s trust. Once they’ve established trust, they may use this to extract personal information or financial details from your child.
Ransomware and phishing attacks
Think phishing attacks are only a cyber security threat for small businesses? Think again. Kids are more likely than adult users to click on links and accidentally download malware or ransomware, meaning they’re increasingly targeted by cyber attackers. Often, these attackers use brightly-coloured graphics and pop ups that attract the attention of young internet users, many of whom don’t have the ability to tell if something looks suspicious. By the time a responsible adult sees what the child has clicked or downloaded, it may be too late.
Similar to the above, identity theft is no longer a cyber threat that only adults face. Each year, growing numbers of children fall victim to identity theft scams conducted by cyber criminals on social media platforms or gaming sites. In these cases, criminals use the child’s name, birth date, and other personal information to create credit cards in the child’s name or for the purposes of reducing their tax liability.
Top Tips for cyber security
While the above cyber threats are certainly cause for concern, they’re fairly straightforward to manage. By taking adequate precautions and teaching kids about cyber safety, you can help them make good decisions online and ensure the protection of your whole family.
Monitor what kids are doing online
Keep up to date with the websites your child visits frequently, and pay particular attention to their social media accounts. Most social media platforms have a minimum age requirement of 13 to register, but there are several ways for kids to get around this. As a rule of thumb, encourage your children to limit their online interactions to a circle of friends they (and preferably you) know in real life.
Limit internet usage where possible
Taking into account time needed to complete homework assignments and other projects, limit the amount of time your child is allowed to spend online. You can do this by setting a hard time limit on screen usage, restricting Wi-Fi networks so they’re only available in certain parts of the house, or through a combination of both.
Use a safe search engine
While Google is great for learning and discovery, it can also expose your child to all manner of malicious or inappropriate content online. To prevent this, ensure that Google Safe Search is on as a minimum, or choose one of the growing number of kid-friendly search engines.
Install online parental control software
For the highest level of protection, consider installing parental control software such as ESET® Parental Control on all devices that your children use. This software will allow you to prevent access to websites that may contain offensive, harmful, or inappropriate content. ESET Internet Security can even provide a list of sites to be wary of and recommend age-appropriate websites if you input your child’s birth year.
Keep your kids safe online
The internet is a fantastic tool that has made it easier than ever for children to learn about the world around them. At the same time, it exposes them to a number of cyber security threats that must be effectively managed. The above steps are a great place to start, and can be customised to suit the specific needs of you and your family.
The offering on SKO is primarily for Android users. Nevertheless, Parental Control feature is available in the following consumer products for Mac, plus two versions for Windows, here and here, and for iPhones and iPads, you can read more about the approach here.
Learn more about Cyber Safety
Want to stay on top of all the latest information about cyber safety from the experts? Visit the ESET Safer Kids Online Initiative, sign up for their newsletter, and complete their free cyber security quiz today to enter the draw to win a kid’s tech prize pack valued at $150!