Mitesh Patel

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5 ways to educate your child on cyber security

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In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools in India have switched to online education and, as a result, children are being exposed to a screen time of more than seven hours. Since they have to wander the internet more than ever, it is very important for them to understand the good and bad effects of the virtual world. Recently, social media was ablaze as screenshots of inappropriate conversations on an Instagram group of some school students came to light.

Along with the myriad benefits associated with the internet, there are also a plethora of accompanying risks, such as inappropriate content, cyberbullying and risk of online trolls. Using various apps or websites that are popular among children, predators may approach teenagers under the pretext of friendship. They might prod the child to exchange personal information, such as their home address and phone number, and might even encourage kids to call them.

As parents, it is our responsibility to prepare for such a scenario. Therefore, it is critical for parents to start the digital education of their children early on, as this can save them heartache and nasty surprises down the line as their young ones grow up.

Let’s discuss some of the steps that you can take as a parent to prevent your children from the dark recesses of the internet world while teaching them safe navigation.

Risk 1: Lack of Communication

. It is very important for your children to feel comfortable discussing their issues with you. If you develop too strict an atmosphere and label certain things as taboo and not suitable for discussion, they’ll go elsewhere to look for those answers. Often, lack of communication between parents and children is the foundation of delinquent behaviour. If their urges are not monitored and talked about, not only can your children get victimised themselves, but they can also target other children as well. Needless to say, neither of the two are scenarios you’d like to face.

Risk 2: Sharing Personal Information

Teach your children about how they should conduct themselves on the internet. Explain to them the dangers and pitfalls of the internet world and instill the idea that it is not smart to share your private information on the internet – regardless of whether you trust the other person or not. Ensure your child knows the risks of sharing their name, address, passwords or other confidential information online.

If you allow your child to talk in online chatrooms, help them come up with usernames that are appropriate and impersonal. Additionally, make sure your child is aware that any information they choose to share on the internet has the potential to circulate forever. If you allow your child to join social media platforms, make sure their profiles are private so strangers cannot see the content that they post. Explain to your child how data breaches work and why it is important for personal information to stay private.

Risk 3: Cyberbullying

Educate your children about cyber-bullying and teach them to not engage in conversations with such people and report them to the concerned website if necessary. Getting into an abuse war with such people is mentally taxing and should be avoided at all costs.

Risk 4: Shared computers

Keep all your devices – including computers, mobile phones, tablets, etc. – up to date with the latest versions of anti-malware programmes. Make sure that your child is aware of the cyber risks of not logging out of a computer, whether it’s at school, the library or a friend’s house. Instill the habit in your children to log out of any computer that is always not in their possession. If your child has a mobile device like a phone or tablet, make sure that never leave it unattended and make sure it’s always locked when not in use.

Risk 5: Online Purchases

 If your child has access to your credit and debit cards, it is essential they ask for permission before making an online purchase. Parental controls can also ensure that your child is not buying apps without your permission. For instance, Apple allows parents to set up their child’s iPhone so parental permission is required when the child attempts to purchase an app. Have a serious conversation about the consequences you will enforce if your child chooses to spend money online without receiving prior approval. If your child is adamant about wanting to buy something safe online, consider allowing them to purchase a prepaid card and monitor what they purchase.

Growing up Cybersecure

While the cyber risks for children exist, the rewards can be much greater. The things your children will be able to do with computers is endless, so do not shelter them from cyber risks but arm them with the knowledge to protect themselves. Staying vigilant, being aware of current threats, talking to your children and protecting your family with the latest defense tactics are important.

Disclaimer: Part of this article is taken from the Indianexpress.

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