Technology seems to have progressed significantly since the beginning of the new century. Back then, many of us had robust desktop computers that looked like a box, with an extremely slow Internet connection compared to today's standards. Social networks were still at an early stage, online banking did not exist and no one had heard of mobile applications.
By jumping quickly to the present, we find a completely different image: the year 2015 is positively futuristic by the standards of the year 2000. Desktop computers are elegant, broadband is super fast, social networks have become a part Intrinsic to life itself and there is a mobile application for everything. And, of course, online banking is a fact.
For many adults, this drastic change has been developing in the background as they continued their daily work. And while they may well have been equipped with the latest technology, their understanding of the digital world is not as broad as they want to be: 20 percent of UK adults, for example, lack the basic skills to be online.
This is a problem because parents try to teach their children a technology and an Internet from an earlier age: they feel insecure about what to do, where they should go and how best to deal with this new reality.
As highlighted in a recent ESET research, although most (88 percent) of mothers and fathers are concerned about things their children can access online, many of them have yet to take significant steps to improve their safety.
With this idea in mind, we will try to start at the beginning to fill those gaps of knowledge. This introductory guide offers some safety tips that will make you think and inspire you about online safety. It is never too late to learn about this important topic.
1. Become familiar with the Internet and related technologies
No one expects you to have the knowledge and experience to compete with these brilliant minds, quite the opposite. However, it is important to know what you are talking about to understand the tools and websites that are popular with children of all ages and to be aware of the risks of online activities.
Why? Because if you do not have any basic knowledge about this area, you do not really know anything about the advantages and disadvantages of technology and the web. Beyond reading about the signs of abuse online, learning about the threats that affect gamers or familiarizing yourself with the social networks that are so popular among teenagers, each piece of information makes its contribution.
2. Introduce technology and security online as early as possible
Some parents are wary of introducing their kids to technology and even the web from an early age, but while doing so in a controlled way, you can feel confident about the things your kids see and do online.
David Harley, the ESET Senior Researcher, suggested that this important task is so vital that it should be introduced "even before they go to daycare." As explained already in 2013 :
"While I am not in favor of giving babies immediate and unlimited access to the cyber world, it is wise to try to achieve a gentle and guided introduction, motivating them to try new things, ask questions and engage in a constructive dialogue."
3. Do not stop talking about social networking and privacy
This may be one of the most difficult areas to manage in terms of balancing best practices and being authoritarian. After all, it is up to each parent to figure out what limits their children are comfortable with and, ultimately, to improvise as they grow older.
However, throughout its development, it is essential that you always keep "conversations" about social networks "active". Focus on the centralized role of these networks in modern life (to keep in touch, share and learn), but also address the associated dangers, such as online sex appeal for strangers and online pedophilia.
It also stresses the importance of privacy from the point of view of security: in other words, share consciously or be " Share Aware, " as the British charity NSPCC says. Explain why the sharing personal information should be limited to social networks, as this data can be easily copied and shared, even after the user deleted the original post.
4. Make sure all your mobile devices are safe and secure
Before, an average family had a computer and a single static access point to connect to the Internet. That changed radically. From smartphones to tablets, laptops to desktop computers and smart TVs to gaming consoles connected to the Internet, we now have at our disposal a huge variety of portable devices with access to the web.
Given how difficult and impractical it is to keep a constant watch on children at all times, there is an even bigger problem: parents can feel confident that they can monitor their children's online activity even when they are away from home.
With mobile parental control applications, for example, this problem is solved. This technology enables mothers and fathers to "protect their children using smartphones and tablets in this complex digital age," while helping them control the telephone bill by preventing integrated purchases in mobile applications.
What makes this type of security so effective is its adaptability: parents can change the settings according to the age of each child, to give an example. Together, you and your children can agree on the settings most appropriate for them. This not only makes them more responsible but also allows you to feel comfortable with the freedoms you give them.
The tip of the iceberg
We hope that the 4 safety tips mentioned above have given you more confidence, make you commit to learning and become enthusiastic about Internet safety, and help you see how important online safety is for your children's well-being.
This is just the tip of the iceberg: there are so many more things you can do to make sure your children learn to use technology and the Internet successfully. Anyway, with this guide, you gave the first step and established solid foundations on which you can develop your understanding of this important subject. Day by day, the world becomes more digital ... it is imperative to follow the pace.