Children are especially vulnerable in the digital age, despite the threats not being clearly visible. Because of their innocence and unsuspecting nature, children are very susceptible to manipulation. It is, therefore, a parent’s responsibility to protect children online and here are four effective ways of doing that.
- Limit their social media exposure
Social media is the bane of a lot of child-targeted evil online. Social media for most children today begins soon after birth when their parents start sharing everything about the children from pictures to names and dates of birth. Unfortunately, this only exposes the child to unforeseen dangers of sharenting – the constant mix of social media sharing and parenting. Such dangers include; cyberbullying, identity theft, exploitative advertising, etc.
As they grow older, children learn about and join social media and begin their own lives on social media. Some of the dangers are similar to those of sharenting, but with greater intensity including cyberbullying, identity theft, pedophilia, etc.
In this case, the best way to protect your children online is to limit their social media exposure. This should be a multi-directional approach that includes how much you share about your children as well as how much they share about themselves. With less personal information floating out there, culled friends’ lists, and high security settings, the risk of exposure is greatly minimized.
- Secure your networks
With your IP address constantly broadcasting information about your device and location every time you connect to a network, it is important to consider better security measures. Internet networks are especially vulnerable to hacking and the risk they present is very high considering the amount and sensitivity of data shared.
As a prime rule, you should educate your children on the importance of avoiding open networks, since they present the greatest risk and are a honey pot for hackers. Nonetheless, you should extend your warning to include all public networks, including seemingly secure networks. Vulnerabilities in WPA2 Wi-Fi encryption point to a greater hacking problem than we could possibly imagine.
The best way to protect your children online is to secure your private networks. All their internet devices, including your home router, should be secured with a VPN. A VPN is a network security tool that encrypts your network traffic and routes it through a secure network tunnel.Your children get to browse anonymously and their data remains secure, which is ideal for protecting them online.
- Teach your children to be safe
Unfortunately, much as you try you can never control every aspect of your children’s lives and a blanket ban just doesn’t cut it. That is why it is important to ensure that they are capable of protecting themselves for all those times that you can’t. The best way of doing that is ensuring that they are not only aware of online threats, but they trust you enough to tell you about them. But this goes both ways, your children could end up being the problem for other children. That is why it is equally important to teach them about responsible internet usage.
- Make use of an antivirus
There are many reasons parents should use antivirus software. For starters, it keeps your children’s devices free from malware that could compromise their online safety such as keyloggers. Aside from that, most antivirus software today includes comprehensive network security tools that detect and protect from hacking attempts such as phishing attacks. Most important, is the parental control feature that allows parents to lock out access to some sites and web content online. This feature blocks out children’s access to inappropriate content such as pornography.
The cyberspace is very important for modern-day kids. That is why parents have to evolve their protection strategy to include online threats. It is impossible to separate cyberspace with the meatspace for today’s kids, but you can ensure that they remain safe on either side. Protection online includes cybersecurity measures, creating awareness and being actively involved in your children’s lives.