The technology and internet in today’s world are ever changing and evolving. How to make sure your privacy is secured online, and how to defend yourself from phishing emails, malware attacks and other forms of cyber threats are common topics for adults.
But what about the younger generation?
How can the society or parents teach young children to use the internet in a safe way? The kids growing up today are often introduced to smartphones, laptops or tablets at a very young age. When you look around, how many kids do you see using a smartphone? Personally, I see it relatively often.
These children know everything about video games, YouTube, animal animations, etc. But little do they know about malicious malware, viruses, phishing, and other online threats.
It’s never too early to start discussing it
Many parents discuss important things with their children once they are about to experience certain situations such as traffic rules and what to look out for when bicycling the streets. Therefore, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start discussing online safety as soon as your children get in touch with the internet. Obviously, this wouldn’t go as far as to explain how they can recognize a phishing email but rather explain that there are safe and unsafe things about the internet. Once they grow older you could start by explaining more in-depth situations and examples of what not to do online.
Privacy & Blackmailing
Teaching our children that everything you do online is registered indefinitely and could always come back to you is perhaps the most important lessons to be learned. For example, take the U.S. Presidential Elections, the number of negative items these teams behind the candidates can come up with from events or conversations that have happened years ago is frightening, to say the least. Furthermore, companies and schools increasingly use the power of the online world to gather extra information so it’s recommended to explain at some point that privacy is very important.
Also, cyberbullying sadly does happen and apart from the fact that it’s horrendous and often traumatizing for the victim, pretty much everything the bullies say can be traced back and once you’ve written something you can’t erase it. Such sensitive information is always also for hackers which they would use to blackmail children or even the parents.
Phishing & Scams
Children’s innocence could also let them fall for phishing traps and other types of line scams. With phishing emails, hackers try to trick you into clicking on a URL in an email, reply and provide personal information or download a virus or malicious malware. Hackers could follow their targets on social media or other platforms in order to find out what the names of their friends are in order to trick children very effectively in providing certain information or set up scams. It’s important to make your kids aware of such emails and teach them to not simply click on every URL or file in an email or message. They should be careful with strangers pretending to be someone they’re not.
Similar to phishing strategies, hackers often abuse children with thoughtful scams and often offer things that are important to children in a specific age-group. For example, they could pretend to hand out premium accounts for games with a bunch of extras they would otherwise never get. All they have to do is provide credit card information, bank account details, a photo of the parent’s passport or ID or other important personal details.
Viruses & Malicious Malware
Virus scanners are designed to be able to recognize threats that are registered in the database of the software developer. However, if a certain virus or type of malware is not yet updated into the database, hackers can benefit from such an exploit and severely damage a computer or steal personal and payment information.
Malware is often designed to be installed without the permission of doing so but simply by clicking on a link or file that automatically installs itself on the target’s device. Children are more vulnerable to open such URLs or files without even knowing they’ve actually installed a harmful malware. Virus scanners have many different options and limitations when it comes to protecting your children online. For example, settings allow parents to disable any form of downloads when their children use the computer.
On a final note…
Everyone shares the responsibility to protect and inform their children of the potential risks and dangers of the digital world we live in. It’s inevitable to introduce children to cybersecurity at a young age and prepare them for online threats. It’s probably hard to prevent every harmful situation for 100%, however, you can educate children how to use the internet safely and make them aware to never hand out personal information or share information you would never share with someone face-to-face.