Keeping your family safe takes on another dimension online. The perils that you and your family face whenever anyone is online are just as dangerous in cyber space as they are in personal space. There simply is a need for cyber security to minimize, if not totally deflect, these dangers.
The usual safeguards may not be adequate. Children, by nature, are curious and inquisitive. They like to explore to satisfy their natural need to know.
As parents, there is a delicate balance on how long of a leash we give to kids to satisfy their natural need and the necessity to protect themselves from the outside world – and from themselves sometimes.
A child out on the internet, either playing a game, researching materials for homework or interacting with social media, can be potentially harmed. Common accidents would be your child stumbling into a porn site, getting into malicious web pages that infect your computer, or inadvertently erasing your own computer files.
Mistakes like these happen and your child may not be aware of them. Or if they are, they may not inform you what happened for fear of embarrassment or punishment.
Another threat is the online predator. Because of the internet’s natural cover for anonymity, these people deceive and manipulate other online users to get what they want. Adults are common victims of these people, and it follows that children are even more susceptible to their dangerous manipulative schemes.
The following are some suggested safeguards to implement cyber security in the family.
Be involved with your childrens’ activities
There are some activities you can do with your kids that will in effect allow you to supervise their activities. If this is not possible, you can always monitor their computer use, which sites they visit and the activities they do online. If they are using emails and chat rooms, try to follow who they are corresponding with, and whether they actually know them.
Rules and danger warnings
Children should be made aware of online dangers. They must be able to recognize suspicious behavior or activities on the internet.
This will help you set boundaries on their computer use. Everything, of course, should be appropriate for their age, knowledge and level of maturity. Apart from scaring them, raising their awareness is of paramount importance. This includes sites they are allowed to visit, programs they can use, and activities they can do.
Separate accounts and other controls
Today’s operating systems carry the option of creating different user accounts on one computer. You can create separate accounts for them to protect your own files and data from being accidentally accessed, modified, or deleted.
If you don’t have separate accounts, consider limiting the functionality of your browser (like remembering passwords, other information, etc.) to preclude accidental access. It is important to keep your anti-virus utility, firewalls, and other safeguards up to date and active.
Some browsers allow you to restrict viewing certain web sites. These may also be password protected.
Some service providers also offer tools that protect children who go online. They can help filter and block sites that are not suited to children. The internet is also full of special programs for childrens’ protection. Be careful when checking these sites, and make sure you vet them thoroughly.
Open communications and computers
Set your computer in an open area of the house where everyone can monitor anyone’s computer activities. It can deter children from doing things not allowed.
Most important, communication lines between all members of the family should be kept open. The children must know that they can approach their parents at anytime about anything they see on the computer.