TechnoparkToday.com>> November 14, 2013: The thought of children meandering across the vast expanse of internet could be potentially dangerous; given that children could be gullible victims of cyber exploits and cyber-crime. After all, the internet has evolved to a platform for self-expression and social interaction, with children indiscriminately indulging in information exchange. A recent study commissioned by McAfee on the online behavior of Indian teens showed the following appalling facts:
– 31% of the surveyed teens have met their online acquaintances in real life, only 17% parents are aware of this.
– 38% of the surveyed teens have witnessed cruel / mean behavior online whereas only 16% parents are aware of this
– 67% of the surveyed Indian teens have had a bad experience by finding new friends online
– 40% of the surveyed teens believe that they shouldn’t share their home address online but they still do
– 97% of the surveyed teens have a social networking account. On an average, they open an account at the age of 13
– 89% of the surveyed Indian teens believe social network is safe
– 56% of polled teens would change their online behaviour if they come to know their parents were watching them
The results of this study affirm that our children, though born as digital natives, need to be aided by parents so that they do not end up being a potential target or a cyber-victim. On the occasion of Children’s Day, pledge to safeguard your children from cyber-threats by adopting the following approach:
1. Educate your child and yourself. Educate your child on the ‘appropriate and acceptable behavior’ online and the virtual reality regarding internet’s ‘anonymity’ and it being a potential hotbed of cyber-crime. You should find out which sites are suitable for their age group and set family protection control such that they can access only those sites. Learn to surf the web and chat online yourself, so you understand what it is that your child is doing. Get to know your child’s online friends as you do their school and neighborhood friends. Do know that attachments, email messages, file-sharing services must always be scanned for virus and malware first. Also, it would be a good idea to stress that children should not open links or attachments from unknown or little known or unexpected senders. It would be a good idea if you can check the content of attachments your child receives – Predators can send pornography or other questionable material.
2. Observe social engagement platforms. Children need to be made to understand that not all chat rooms are fit for chatting. Always avoid using “.alt” chat rooms – focusing on alternative topics that might be inappropriate for kids. Friends made in the chat rooms are always a stranger, no matter for how long and how often our kids chat with them. It’s common for both men and women to forge age and name to befriend impressionable kids on chat sites.
3. Ensure that your child understands the need of NOT revealing personally-identifiable information such as their real name, gender, age, school, phone number, home address. Explain through examples why this can be harmful. If teens must chat on gaming sites and other teen-specific sites, ask them to use non-provocative chat pseudonym that doesn’t hint at their identity. They must also guard other people’s personal information, such as friends’ names and phone numbers.
4. Stress the need of consulting and confiding in parents. Online nastiness is a reality, however there are steps to avoid it and also tackle it if encountered. Make it clear to the child that they cannot control what other people say to them and that they are not to blame if this happens. They can block a user by right-clicking on their name and choosing the “Block” or “Ignore” feature. If faced with problem with any chatter, they can send the copied log to the chat room moderator or administrator. You can find the contact information in the help or reporting section of the program. But they must maintain record of chat logs before deleting a user for future reference.
5. School your children on meeting online friends. Make sure that your child knows how important it is that they don’t meet online friends face to face without your knowledge. Determine the person’s true identity before permitting any meeting. Make sure any such meeting happens in a public place, and accompany them.
6. Monitor internet usage. The computer should be placed in the main living space with monitor facing outward into the room. This would ensure that screen is visible from all around and that there is limited secrecy. Set strict time limits and ban late-night internet usage. There are software available that help enforce the time limits. Do not permit your child to be left alone in cyberspace for long periods of time — this is when they are most vulnerable.
7. Update the security of your device. For the most complete way to keep your children safe online, use parental control products such as McAfee Total Protection. Its parental control feature keeps children of all ages safe from exposure to inappropriate content, social networking risks, strangers, and other online threats.
The cyber world is the world for the upcoming generation. We have to prepare our children to make the most of this world and stay safe there. Happy Children’s Day!
McAfee, a wholly owned subsidiary of Intel Corporation (NASDAQ:INTC), empowers businesses, the public sector, and home users to safely experience the benefits of the Internet. The company delivers proactive and proven security solutions and services for systems, networks, and mobile devices around the world. With its Security Connected strategy, innovative approach to hardware-enhanced security, and unique Global Threat Intelligence network, McAfee is relentlessly focused on keeping its customers safe.