ARE YOUR KIDS SAFE ONLINE?
For kids these days, staying online and staying connected is becoming a necessity as more and more schools and colleges are integrating research based work in their curriculum. Students have to visit various informative websites, videos and images to complete their assessments and give an innovative touch to their piece of work.
Kids as young as three years old are aware of the fact that they can find cartoons, nursery rhymes and games of their interest online. Many of the parents even bribe their kids to give them phones or tablets for doing simple chores such as being nice infront of guests or studying well etc. But every child using internet doesn’t know about viruses, online privacy, phishing, social networking etiquette, and other internet safety and/or security issues.
IMPORTANT TIPS FOR KIDS
To keep kids safe online, every child using internet must be aware of following facts.
Going online is just like going out in real world
For Kids starting to use internet, it is a fabulous and amazing place to be, but you must realize that going online is just like going out in real world. When online, you must understand the importance of considering your boundaries such as talking to strangers, using abusive language for your class mates or bullying, as such behaviors are as bad online as in real world scenario.
Everyone must remember that anything you do online is saved forever and can create problems for you in future. If you have said or done anything controversial online, it will be copied many times and will come back to hurt you later on….even after you have deleted it from the original online source. Remember, employers and even world top universities admission offices look at social medial accounts when offering admission to students.
Be Smart and Respectful
Remember to always be smart by being kind and respectful to others online. Respect other people’s views. Even if you don’t agree with someone else’s views doesn’t mean you need to be rude. Make the internet a better place by helping your friends if they are upset by anything that happens online.
Avoid accepting contact requests, links, photos or advertisements from strangers
Children must know at all times that just like they are not allowed to accept gifts from strangers in physical world, they should not accept any offers or open unsolicited emails with attachments from an unknown contact. Think carefully before you click on a contact request, link, photo or an advertisement sent from an unknown source as they may lead to or they may contain viruses. Remember, hackers are the criminals that break into your house through your computer rather than through the window.
In words of Amichai Shulman, CTO of network security firm Imperva, children’s sense of curiosity is far more developed and their sense of caution far less mature, which makes them an easy suspect of cyber crimes and online predators.
Never Be friends with strangers
Beware!! someone’s identity is stolen every 3 seconds as a result of cyber crime.
Online social media can be a nightmare if you keep on making friends online whom you don’t know in person. Once you add them to your friends list, they get all the privileges such as assessing your posts, photos and videos that are kept private from public. The unknown friend can use all your information to make a fake account and use it in a negative way you can’t even imagine.
Keep your personal information safe
Keep your privacy setting as high as possible. Whenever chatting or posting any content online such as a video, audio or text on social media, never give away your personal information such as full name, phone numbers, full date of birth, home or school address. Never share your password with anyone even if its your super close friend. Keep your information safe to keep yourself safe.
Take a cautious approach while posting your pictures. Once you upload a picture online, its not yours anymore as most of the people can see and download it. They can be modified and misused easily.
Never try to meet a total stranger
Kids must realize that a stranger met online might not be who they say they are. They must never meet up with someone they know online. Even if that person claims to be a friend of a friend, still that person is a stranger and meeting up can be a dangerous idea. If someone you know online ever asks you to meet up, or asks for personal information or photos / videos of you then straight away inform an adult and report the incident to Cyber Rescue 9911.
Not all information online is RELIABLE:
You cannot trust everything you see online as some things can be out of date, inaccurate or not entirely true. To find reliable information compare at least three different websites, check in books and talk to someone about what you have found.
Discuss with a trusted adult anything bothering you
If something or someone ever makes you feel upset, worried or confused, always discuss it with some adult. This could be if you or someone you know is being bullied online. There are lots of people who will be able to help you like your teachers, parents, carers or contact Pakistan’s National Response Centre for Cyber Crime at 9911 or report a cyber crime online at www.nr3c.gov.pk
IMPORTANT TIPS FOR PARENTS
Communication, communication and communication
The first and foremost important job of a parent these days is to start discussing online safety with their child as soon as they start using internet. Initially the child is using computer with the help of a parent or guardian, which provides a wonderful opportunity to inform the child about safe and unsafe activities online such as passwords, the type of information that should/ shouldn’t be shared with anyone online and internet security protection, etc.
Proactively discussing the cyber security issues with your kids will help them later in their lives while making accounts for social networking sites. Help them create a sensible password and explain the importance of using different passwords for each account to avoid having a magnified effects of a password theft.
Talk to your child about do’s and don’ts of using internet to build the level of trust with your child so if they ever run into a trouble, they keep coming to you.
Get familiar with the services your child is using
Find out what your children are up to, create your own accounts and use the services they are using so that you become familiar with the privacy settings and reporting mechanisms. But never comment anything on your child’s social media account that may embarrass him/ her.
Set House rules
Always monitor your child’s time online, especially the younger children. Let your child use internet at a place which is a common room so the child knows that he/ she is not alone. Even if they are in another room, don’t let them close the door and keep asking them about what they are watching in a fun filled way by asking questions such as
- So, what are you watching today? is it informative?
- What did you learned today?
- So you watched these videos of troom troom , which hacks are you going to use ?(since my daughter love watching this site, i keep asking her to make her think if she spent her time wisely)
If you think they are watching useless stuff then talk to them gently and tell them about some other great videos or sites that you think will be more helpful, informative and enjoyable at the same time.
Technology Tools to help limit exposure
The most popular browsers provide features to block inappropriate sites using a safe search filter and the big internet service providers all offer free parental controls. Have a look at this video about how to turn on safe search settings in Google Chrome and Youtube.
For youTube, always login using your account (on your laptop as well as YouTube app on your phone) and then let the child watch videos. As, this will provide you the full history of usage along with the time watched.
Specific software is also available from all well-known developers allowing you to set the level of monitoring, block access to specific sites and programs, receive email alerts and even record keystrokes. But remember, no system is 100% accurate so don’t over-rely on technical tools. Always make sure you keep discussion open with your children to help them develop their critical thinking as they learn to use internet.
Despite the various horrors and pitfalls of online culture, we should never ignore the enormous positives and benefits of online world. Rather than limiting the potential to create, connect, communicate and share with the world, we as parents, should help our kids to stay safe and become smart and proactive digital citizens to get the best of the online world.
Where to seek help if you are a victim of cyber crime
If you are living in Pakistan and you have been a victim of cyber crime such as
- Hacking, identity theft, cyber bullying or stalking
- Financial frauds, digital piracy, computer viruses and worms
- IP rights, money laundering or others
you can seek immediate assistance through Pakistan’s National Response Centre for Cyber Crime.
Their Cyber Rescue Helpline 9911 is a round the clock service which provides one window service to register a cyber crime complaint and provide assistance to Pakistani Public. According to the Prevention of the Electronic Crime ACT 2016, the offenders shall be highly punished with imprisonment and heavy fines.