Skip to content

Parents’ Guide: How to Ensure Your Kids’ Safety on the Internet? [+Expert Advice]

12% of eight-year-old kids are spending more than 4 hours online each day. This number will probably make you concerned that your kids may be spending too much time on the Internet. Apart from resulting in missed out real-life experiences, spending too much time online make your kids exposed to cyber threats. We understand that it is a stressful time for parents, therefore we decided to come up with this parents’ guide where you will learn about cyber security for kids and how to ensure your kids’ safety. In order to give you a unique experience, we have asked for expert advice on that topic, thanks to Professor Barbara Endicott-Popovsky (see her Linkedin profile here).

Risks faced by children online

The internet is a dangerous neighbourhood for everybody, including your kids. As with the real world, there are a spectrum of risks online. It is so important that you teach your children how to navigate them. Here are the major risks you have to be aware of:

4 most common threats children face online

  • Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying (or electronic bullying) refers to when someone is repeatedly nasty, harassing or threatening towards another individual using any form of digital technology, such as social media and mobile phones. This aggressive and intentional act is pervasive and can continue 24/7. There are so many forms of cyberbullying, for example: repeated prank phone calls, creating a fake account in someone else’s name and using that to harass, deliberately excluding someone from an online chat or group, forwarding others’ private emails, messages, pictures or videos without permission. Are you worried about whether your child is being cyberbullied? If yes, then look out for your child’s change in mood and behaviour, sudden change in friendship groups, or a dramatic change in interest for going to places. In any circumstance, praise your children for coming to you and let them know that you will help them.

  • Inappropriate content: Although the internet has become a wonderful resource for kids, as a parent, you need to help your children avoid unsuitable content. How do I protect my child from seeing inappropriate content, you may ask. The ideal approach would be talking to your kids about what they might find there, as soon as they start to use the internet. Furthermore, you can install extensions and apps, and remind your kids not to reveal their name, age or address online. Another great way is to enable Google SafeSearch in whichever browser you use. Enter Google, go to ‘Settings’, click on ‘Search settings’, then simply turn on SafeSearch (see the image below).

  • Online scams: Another potential threat to discuss with your kids are online scams. There are some variety of scams that specifically target children, Norton says. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the popularity of online games and applications to build convincing scams that are difficult for adults, let alone children to detect and avoid. If your kid’s account contain any sensitive information, explain to your child that any demand for any kind of personal information is a red flag of scam-related behaviour. Because companies would never ask for sensitive personal information like bank account credentials. Also, discuss with your kid the dangers of clicking on the suspicious links even if they seem to be coming from ‘friends’. Once clicked, suspicious links may install malicious software on your kid’s device, stealing their login details – something you never want to happen.

  • Malware: “Click here for your free Xbox 360!”. It is highly likely that your kid will come across such offers online, which are tempting. These offers may contain malicious codes that will corrupt the system or destroy your kid’s data contained in his device. A perfect rule of thumb is to never click on anything that you kid is not familiar with and is not expecting. Besides that, it is advisable to install virus protection software on your kid’s device to protect his/her computer from incoming threats. Make sure to safeguard your children against all types of viruses, including spyware, Trojans, or worms.

How to enable google safesearch

Why monitoring your child’s Internet activity is important?

Today, kids have easy access to hundreds of internet sites. But, some of these sources might not be appropriate for your kid, depending on his/her age. As your kid learn how to interact online, you, as a parent, have to be resolute in your commitment to support your child.

Where to start then? Monitor your kid’s online activity. You may face some pushback from your kid, we understand, so be clear with your kid about your concerns. Believe us, there are so many unethical people out there wanting to compromise other’s identity and you do not want your kid falling victim to such individuals. Yet, we believe that monitoring has to be accompanied by constantly educating your kids about the dangers lurking on the internet.

If you decide to monitor your kid’s online behaviours, keep the following 2 tips in mind. Firstly, tell your child up front that you are going to monitor their online activities before you actually do. Explain him/her logically your purpose for monitoring. Secondly, discuss openly about how the monitoring is going to work. Do not forget that there is still a slim line between monitoring and overcontrol. You have to be transparent and nuanced about monitoring your kid’s behaviour without invading on his/her privacy. Simply put, monitoring does not mean spying your kids, but to protect your kids from potential cyber threats.

8 questions you must ask your kid about online activity

Internet safety is important than ever before and all parents must have the tech talk with their children. Do not you know where to start? Here are 7 questions that will help you build a nurturing online environment in your home.

  • What do you usually do online for fun?

  • What are your favourite websites?

  • How much time do you spend on the Internet every day?

  • Have you ever felt uncomfortable or confused by somebody that contacted you online?

  • Do you know why you should protect yourself when you are online?

  • If yes, what are you doing to protect yourself when you are online?

  • What kind of precautions do you take when creating passwords?

  • What do you know about computer viruses?

One thing to remember: finish the conversation by letting your children know that if they have any concerns, they can always speak to you. Help your kids see you as a trusted guide. You do not want your kids to be hesitant about coming to you as regards something upsetting because they are afraid that you will limit their internet time.

What parents can do to protect their kids online?

Parents must be aware of what their children see online. On the Internet, we are all interconnected – over 5 billion of us – including, according to Media Awareness Network, over 77,000,000 children, who make great targets. If just 3% of those online are sociopathic that means there are 150,000,000 cyber-neighbors to worry about, almost two for every child.

In our quest to be safe online, knowledge is power!“, says Professor Endicott who is Executive Director of the Center for Information Assurance and Cybersecurity at the University of Washington. Her research, as well as leadership, has influenced cybersecurity education across the United States. She is also serving as an Academic Director at Swiss Cyber Academy.

Professor Endicott also adds: “Numerous Internet resources are available to raise awareness. Some like the National Safety Security Alliance’s site, the Federal Trade Commission website and a site called “Identity Theft is a Crime” keep track of the latest exploits. A book (see the book on Amazon) by an identity theft victim Mari Frank provides practical guidance and sites like Kim Komando’s, discuss in layman’s terms, how to protect your home PC. Komando also offers free security software downloads and regular security tips.

According to Professor Endicott, making children aware of their online vulnerabilities can be taught effectively. This engages them in taking responsibility for their own online safety, as opposed to relying on the imposition of filters and other restrictions which can be an incentive for some to work around.

The following are some of the tips from Swiss Cyber Forum:

  • build trust between yourself and your kid, encouraging them to tell you about any concerns they encounter.

  • teach your kids how to keep information private online

  • keep track of your kid’s online time to make sure they do not develop bad habits.

  • make your children know that what goes online remains there for many years.

Do not forget cyber security and educate your kids

Let’s face the truth: today’s kids are getting more technologically sophisticated. Even very often, their knowledge outpace what their parents know about technology and the internet. However, spending time online can lead to many trouble if you do not educate or monitor your children’s activity. We know, parenting has never been easy. But when it comes to the internet security for kids, finding a balance can definitely benefit your kids and help them enjoy their time online.

Everybody is at risk of a cyberattack. But if you take adequate steps to constantly refresh your knowledge, you can prevent cyber threats. Keep your skills and knowledge up to date with our weekly blog posts, and remain on your absolute A-game. Why don’t start with reading The Beginner’s Guide to Cyber Espionage?