Cyber Safety Guide: From Tots to Pre-teens
Consider these statistics from the National Cyber Security Alliance: only 8 percent of educators said their school includes cyber security, cyber safety, and cyber ethics in the curriculum; less than 5 percent said protecting, identifying, and responding to identity theft, predators, bullying and other crimes is included in the curriculum; only 22 percent are comfortable teaching about these issues. 1
If your child is not receiving a cyber security education in school, where are they receiving it? Children face a variety of issues when they use computers to complete projects, talk to new classmates, or play games; they are also among the least protected against intruders, and often lack basic knowledge on how to stay safe online. Here's Lavasoft's easy, 3-step safety plan aimed at guiding the 12 and under set online – use it to help keep them safe from online predators, cyber bullying, inappropriate content, and stealthy security threats.
1. Establish clear limits.
As soon as your child is old enough to go online, create an open dialogue about safe computing habits. Then, make rules together for what they can and cannot do on the computer. Create family rules for:
- The maximum amount of time spent online per day.
- Who they are allowed to communicate with.
- What information is okay to give out, and what is off limits.
- Content that can be viewed. For younger children, restrict Web use to a few educational and kid-oriented game sites.
- Downloading programs and files. Always have kids check with an adult before they install anything on the computer.
Once the rules are decided, put them down on paper and post them by the computer, so they are on hand as a quick reference.
2. Monitor Web use.
In terms of young PC users, providing them with too much privacy on the Internet may not be a wise decision. Due to the dangers that exist on the Web, kids need guidance on what is and is not acceptable online behavior. This means parental supervision is a must. The following tactics can help:
- Place the family PC in a shared location, like the living room or kitchen, for more effective supervision.
- Set up young children with a shared family e-mail address so that you can monitor incoming messages.
- If instant messaging or social networking sites are used, block anyone not on your child's pre-approved contact list.
- Oversee outgoing e-mail messages and posts to personal profiles or blogs to ensure that private information is not made public.
3. Protect your PC.
Make certain that you have security measures in place on your computer before disaster strikes. With today's threat landscape, you cannot assume that child-friendly sites are free from aggressive ads and malicious content. These sites may have advertisements popping-up regularly or attempt to download programs without your child asking for them. Even mainstream sites are subject to stealthy attack techniques like SQL injections and drive-by-downloads. At the minimum, you should:
- Install security software (anti-spyware, anti-virus and a firewall) and keep it up-to-date.
- Patch your operating system and other applications as soon as updates become available.
- In Windows, operate under a limited user account, not the all-powerful administrator account.
If you opt for additional measures, like parental controls to block inappropriate websites, keep in mind that this software may not block every bit of unwanted material; nothing replaces the guidance of an adult.