It’s the age of social sharing. Be it pictures from your kid’s birthday party or your recent trip to an exotic location, you want the world to know! We do not realise how quickly the kids learn from us. While we may still be a little discreet with our sharing, know how to use our privacy settings, I am not sure how many have educated their kids on the same. I know of so many friends whose kids under the age of 18 have their own Facebook and twitter accounts. While they might be sharing updates and pictures innocently, there is also an evil side lurking in the dark. There are newer and constantly evolving forms of cyber threats which can plague the lives of children. Given the amount of time spent by kids online these days, it has become important and necessary for parents to be involved in their child’s online life and monitor their behaviour. With these internet safety concerns for kids in mind, we decided to seek expert help from Cybermum India, the online safety evangelist at Intel Security.
A little introduction to Cybermum. Cybermum India is an initiative by Intel Security that educates parents on different ways to keep their kids safe in the virtual world. The Cybermum initiative was launched in India after its success in US and Australia where thousands of kids, teens and parents have been educated by Intel Security.
Anindita Mishra, Cybermum India, is a teacher and mother of two. She has always been a vocal advocate for issues tied to children’s welfare and development. Leveraging the Cybermum platform and by contributing to various newspapers, online journals and kids focused magazines, she makes a concerted effort to engage with concerned parents and educate them on precautions and steps they should take in order to protect their loved ones in cyberspace. Anindita connects with concerned parents through her Blog and other social media like twitter and facebook.
To learn more about Internet safety for your family visit www.mcafee.com/family. When we interviewed Anindita, we had a lot of concerns. This is an excerpt of the interview.
- As a parent how can we get alerts and monitor our kids visiting banned sites?
Children of the current generation are digital natives who spend a lot of their time online with the help of their gadgets. Networking, gaming, learning and discovery are some of the most common online activities. However, in many cases, they are able to navigate and explore the internet more efficiently than their parents/ guardians. This can often leave a gap between what they are doing online and how aware their parents are of these activities and parents are often hesitant about having to deal with this new avenue of stress. In fact According to the McAfee Teens, Tweens and Technology Survey, 2014 only 46% of the youth said their parents have had a conversation with them about online safety and 52% say their parents simply don’t care.
I am of the firm belief that parents need to first bring themselves up to speed on the following:
- Popular platforms and content: It is important to have at least a basic understanding of how these platforms work as well as make themselves familiar with the kind of content tweens and teens consume online. This will give them a sense of the potential risks
- Available safeguards: This implies not just in terms of security software but also the various privacy settings on social networks.
Today’s digital security options offer a wonderful parent-friendly feature called parental controls. Softwares like McAfee Total Protection, McAfee Internet Security and McAfee LiveSafe include this feature. This will allow parents to regulate internet access timings for individual child, select a list of ‘allowed’ sites as per age and need of each child and get remote information if child breaches rules, exchanges inappropriate language or connects with a stranger. All this in the full knowledge of the children. Isn’t that wonderful?
- How do we monitor kids online activity without affecting their privacy?
Privacy is important to all of us, more so to a growing tween or teen. Young adults need their space and when they are offered this option, they often develop a stronger bond with their parents.
First step should involve talking to your children upfront about your apprehensions pertaining to the virtual world, the presence of strangers there and the way truth and facts are distorted. Let them know that you support their interest in technology and internet but are aware that, just like in the real world, there are diverse kinds of people online. And therefore, you would like it if they allow you to be a part of their online presence. Reiterate that you love and trust them but not the strangers online. And affirm that you will neither intervene nor make your presence felt, so as not to cause the child any embarrassment. But you should assert that they bring your attention to any untoward incident that they face online.
The next step should entail setting up robust parental controls, after discussing with your child the timings that are agreeable to you both and the sites you would like to ban or allow. Let the child know that they can have their privacy but you will receive information about their online activities. And if they breach rules, there would be penalties. This would keep kids on their toes, but they would accept as they would have their privacy. Read More