Saturday, May 30, 2015

Keeping kids safe online: Step 1

Step 1: Parents, educate yourselves

Here are a few facts about online safety that I learned by visiting the Cyber Safety Village at the RSA Conference this year:
  • 65% of 8- to 14-year-olds have been involved in a cyber bullying incident
  • 49% say that they have been the online bully
  • Only 6% of parents were aware of this
  • 49% of teens do not believe that posting personal information online might have a negative impact on their futures

The Internet can be a scary place for kids—and for parents. And yet, children are using the Internet by the time they are three years old. According to one study, which included 1100 parents and 825 children, kids spend twice as much time online as their parents think they do. Here are some statistics from that study:
  • one in seven children under the age of 16 spend 4+ hours a day glued to the screen
  • 64% of kids indicated they have had a negative experience online
  • 6% of children have been exposed to violent porn
  • one-third of children say it is harder to focus on offline tasks, like reading a book
  • one in 20 said they had met up with a stranger that they first met on the Internet

The truth is that most kids do not understand the risk; and most parents are not experts in cyber security. But kids need our help. What can you do as a parent to keep your kids safe online?

First, as a parent, you need to educate yourself, whether you are tech-savvy or not. There are many resources available to you. Don't be overwhelmed by the number of resources. Here are some starting places:
  1. Visit the RSAC Cyber Safety: Kids page
  2. Watch the brief cyber safety videos
  3. Read the Top 10 Online Safety Tips for Parents, distributed by the Internet security and safety giant, (ISC)2. 
  4. Bookmark these resources, and peruse them all:

OK, that's enough information for parents to get started. Don't put this off. Spend an hour or two with these resources, and discuss them with your partner. Arm yourself with information before you have that conversation with your kids. If you need some motivation to get started, read Alicia's story.

Secondly, communicate with your children. Have open discussions about online safety and stay positively engaged with your children. We'll take a look at ways to do this in our next posting, Keeping kids safe online: Step 2.

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