Send Your Kids Back to School with Cybersecurity Knowledge

Summer vacation is on and chances are that your kids are spending time indoors as the scorching sun makes it too hot to go and play outside. They are probably lounging around with their devices, which may include gaming devices, smartphones, laptops, desktops, virtual assistants, livestreaming sticks, smart toys or e-book readers. And why not? These are the children of the digital age after all.

As a parent, you may be concerned about whether your children know how to conduct themselves online so that they have a safe digital experience without compromising their personal information. Recently, the news is all about social media platforms saving and sharing personal data of users tracking their activities. You have been reading about how hackers steal data by communicating with vulnerable children through smart toys or even change settings of devices, like the home CCTV. What bothers parents most is that they may not be around all the time their children go online. With many schools adopting BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and children having their own smartphones, the use of devices is no more restricted to homes.

Fret not. You can also become a super cool cyberparent- just help your children pick up some essential online safety tricks this summer for, as they say, prevention is better than cure.

It goes without saying that the first step is to secure all connected devices using a licensed comprehensive solution, like the McAfee Total Protection. This new solution can help you manage and protect devices connected to your home network while providing parental controls that can be suited to the needs of all age groups.

The second step is to discuss cybersecurity with your kids and set up DO’S and DON’T’s for them to follow when they go online. Here are some discussion starters to help you along:

  1. Explain the implication of privacy breach and data theft. Discuss how hackers steal passwords and data using infected links and phishing mails and what they can do with the data
  2. Share stories about fake social profiles, kidnappers etc. and outline the probable future consequences of connecting with strangers, even if it is a person of their own age
  3. Repeat often the cybersafety mantra- STOP.THINK. SHARE. Ask them if they have faced social media issues like cyberbullying, fake news, cyber stalking and converse how these need to be tackled

The third step is to share these top 10 cybersafety tips with your kids:

  • Change default passwords in each device
  • Keep passwords a secret, even from your BFF: It’s just like sharing the keys to your house. If it falls into the wrong hands, it can be misused.
  • Use only secured devices, at home and elsewhere: Do not make it easy for a hacker to steal data from you
  • Protect your personal data: Your data is your business and nobody else’s. Preferably do not share facts like your name, birthday, address, school, hobbies anywhere online
  • Say ‘NO’ to friend request from strangers: That 14-year old teen who seems to share all your interest may be a 55-year old. Also, be suspicious of duplicate friend requests
  • Never comply with requests for sharing personal pics: Would you hand over a picture of yours to a random person on the street? No? Then don’t do so online either
  • Refrain from opening email attachments or video/ message links. Be suspicious of emails that have your name wrong or have spelling errors like ‘www.yhoo.com’
  • Do not click on websites if they don’t start with ‘https’
  • Use 2-factor authentication to make your account security stronger
  • Keep location services off when not needed and do check in on social media

Your kids are a year older and a lot wiser. Let them feel grown-up and responsible by encouraging them to take charge of their digital lives. And bask in the glory of having done your bit to bring up responsible netizens.

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