Cybersecurity company ESET has shared five tips on how to guide kids to safe internet habits. The intertwining of our digital lives with our physical world has brought with it new and great challenges for parents, caregivers and teachers. In addition to teaching children how to read and understand information online and surfing the Internet, we must also teach the many hidden risks, especially in the online world.
Just like adults, children struggle with password security. You can help them by explaining the importance and necessity of using strong and unique passwords, and then have them keep those passwords private. They should consider using passwords that are not too long or complex to memorize, consisting of a variety of words and character types, rather than simple and easy-to-guess passphrases. Make sure to emphasize that passwords or passphrases should never be shared with anyone, and that an extra layer of security will never hurt anyone.
Personal information is personal
It's important to highlight the value of our data for young children. You should explain that they should never open links from someone they don't know, and that when their friend sends something through a messaging app, they should always check before clicking the link if the link was actually sent by their friend, whether it is valid and secure, and whether it contains spam. Above all, make sure they know they should never give their full names, ID numbers, addresses or bank details to anyone.
Growing up in the digital age means all your data is online. Children are involved in the digital world with facial recognition systems, health data collected by wearable devices, notes kept in online databases, and personal information requested to register on video game platforms. It is important that they understand how this data can be used. Explain that this data is a source of income for hackers.
Sharing is not always caring
Mobile devices such as laptops, phones and tablets have given new meaning to the concept of "personal computer". Computers were built to be used by individual users rather than shared. Teens may not know this and may be inclined to share their device with friends while showing pictures, playing mobile video games or “just checking something on TikTok”. Remind them never to lend their device to someone they don't know.
be wary of strangers
Another issue that parents and educators should not avoid is the “stranger danger”. In addition to telling kids not to get in a stranger's car, remind them that the internet is a big public place full of strangers only. Assuming the worst-case scenario, explain what could have happened and how any harm could have been avoided.
Your children should know that on the Internet, malicious people can be found hidden behind computers. The more information children share, the greater the potential harm; in other words, the more likely they are to gain the trust and friendship of abusive adults and then abuse or otherwise use that trust against them. Teach children to be wary of people they know as well as people they don't know. Explain the meaning of concepts such as cyberbullying and gaining trust, and how strangers try to trick teens into making fake friendships and sharing personal data or even sexual content, which can result in intimidation, fear, and potential physical harm.