Therefore, we would like to share with you Four essential S.T.A.R tips to keep your family safe online.
S is for Software: The security software you use needs to be updated regularly and constantly assessed to suit the changing level of your online interactions.
Let technology work to your advantage and not at the expense of your online safety.
T is for Talk: It is a parent’s responsibility to keep their children safe online by connecting with them through regular conversations (not interrogations). Kids spend hours online and it is hard to constantly monitor the websites they visit. They are a lot savvier with technology and explore online activities such as chatting, emailing, gaming and posting personal information and images on websites. Regrettably, online predators have become adept at using these technologies to approach children and teens.
Parents need to have frequent talks and set rules and let them know what are the dos and don’ts:
- Limit the time your children spend online
- Tell them not to instant message or email people you and they don’t know
- Tell them to never give any personal information to anyone you don’t know
- Let them know what kinds of websites you expect them to avoid
- Make sure they know that they should tell you if something weird or unexpected happens
Always ask questions in the conversation you have with your children. Ask:
- What websites they’re visiting
- With whom they’re instant messaging or emailing
- If anything weird has happened to them online, and so on
A is for Awareness of REAL online risks (i.e. Internet predators, cyberbullying, etc.)
Protect you and your family against identity theft
Identity theft is a two-step process. First, someone steals your personal information. Next, they use that information to impersonate you and commit fraud. Most identity theft occurs in one of the following ways:
- Cyber thieves rifle through stolen emails, or trick you into revealing sensitive details
- With phishing and pharming, thieves use fake emails and websites to impersonate legitimate organisations
- Hackers and viruses can infiltrate your computer to steal data or capture account names and passwords as you type them
Online gaming addiction opens kids up to greater dangers
Chatting online with other game players may expose your children to online predators. Predators go where kids go online, and where better than a fantasy world that includes children? Also, gaming addiction can take a toll on your pocket. Many popular online games require that players buy the game, then pay monthly subscription fees.
One can buy additional characters and accessories from the gaming website and by maintaining an open connection between your computer and a gaming website/chat room, this can lead to intrusion and possible theft of your identity and financial records on your home computer or network. It is important to have good Internet security software installed on your computer and more importantly when you are gaming online.
Cyber bullying: Anti-social behavior online
The good news is, technology offers today’s kids more ways to connect, socialise and communicate than ever before. The bad news is that some kids are abusing the technology by engaging in cyberbullying – a cruel anti-social behavior perpetrated either online or via mobile phones, often anonymously, mostly by tweens and teens, and sometimes by troubled adults.
- Cyber bullies use text messages on mobile phones, or email, instant messages, social networking blogs, or web pages to harass, embarrass, and intimidate other kids
- The bullying takes many forms, from spreading false rumors and posting embarrassing pictures to sending offensive messages, repeated harassment (sometimes sexual), stalking, threats, and even extortion
Get educated – stay in tune with their kids’ online activities and learn about the new technologies such as the popular social networking sites, which are very popular amongst teens. Predators have recently begun using these sites to approach and sexually assault young teens, thus the need for parental control in play.
R is for Rules: set online safety rules for your family and be consistent
Set Internet Policies: According to the Norton Online Family Report (2010), although 7 in 10 parents have set rules surrounding their kid’s use of the Internet, it appears that children’s perception of these rules is that they are outdated, as 61% of children believe that they are more careful with their online activities than their parents.
As the Internet becomes a larger and larger part of our lives, establishing boundaries for online activity between parents and children is increasingly vital. Like anything else, open dialogue and clear expectations are the most important steps. Parents don’t have to “out-tech” their kids to protect them.
Create family policies for email, IM, blogs, and social networking accounts, including the kinds of programs your kids can use. Use the Norton Parental Control feature in Norton 360 version 4.0 if this is your current security software to block access to restricted programs and sites. Taking these initiatives will hopefully enable parents to develop their knowledge of what their child does on the Internet whilst encouraging the child to interact safely and learn how to value and protect their personal privacy and identity online.
Monitor your kids’ accounts: Make sure you know who your children are meeting online. Match the online identity of every person they communicate with to make sure it’s someone you know and trust. Regularly check their buddy lists and address books for new and unfamiliar names.
Make the Internet a family activity: Maybe more important than anything else, keep your computers in a central part of the house; that way you can stay involved and keep an eye on what your kids are doing.
Article by Symantec.
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