Protecting your child’s online identity

“Given some of the dangers of modern life, I believe it is safe to say that most of us pay a lot of attention to security – especially as parents – and rightly so,” says Riaan Badenhorst, Managing Director, Kaspersky Lab Africa. However, we tend to focus mostly on the security of our homes and vehicles or even our own physical security. But, have we placed enough focus on our online habits and subsequently, our digital identities?

It is not just our own identity and online security that we need to understand, but that of our children – who are exposed to more technology and social media platforms today, than ever before.

There is no denying the fact that the Internet is a valuable tool for information. With broadband growth and access becoming more readily available locally, we are often digitally ‘connected’ around the clock – irrespective of the mobile device we are using.

However, as parents, we have a responsibility to ensure that we balance the benefits that the digital world offers our children, along with the risks it can bring. The Internet has introduced our children to a realm of ‘added’ potential harm – including aspects such as cyber bullying; contact with/from undesirable people; being exposed to inappropriate or harmful content, and of course, malicious software or cyber-attacks on devices.

So what can we parents do about ensuring safety online for everyone and ensure the protection of your child’s digital identity?

Understandably, it is not always easy for us to talk to our children about their online safety habits and the risks they can be exposed to. This is due to the fact, that we ourselves are unsure of how some of the new technology works and what it could be used for. It is with this in mind that Kaspersky Lab has created a useful list of ‘tips’ that parents can implement at home, as well giving you the platform to discuss safe online habits/behaviour with your children.

As parents, you can use these ‘rules/tips’ for keeping your children safe and out of harm in the online world (just as we would have rules for the ‘real word’).

These tips include:

  • Talk to children about the potential dangers that they may face online and the need for Internet safety – be real with them and use language that is appropriate – even before they get their first mobile phone or tablet PC to play games.
  • Encourage children to talk to you about anything they may have experienced online that upsets them, or that makes them feel uncomfortable.
  • Restrict the content that can be accessed via the computer using Parental control tool.
  • Just as you would teach children to not talk to a stranger in real life, teach them to not talk to strangers online. If they do not know the person, they should not interact with them online. Tell them that strangers can use the online world to connect with them and lure them into harmful situations.
  • Make a rule with children to not share personal information online – for example, do not give out their phone number(s), school information, or home address to anyone over the Internet.
  • Encourage children to be careful about what they post online – be it photos, videos, writing on someone’s wall or checking into a location. Remember that what goes out online stays there forever and while it is fun to share photos and videos with friends and family – tell them to make sure that photos and videos do not give away any clues about their location at the time or where they may live.

In addition consider a rigorous Internet security solution (like that of Kaspersky Internet Security – multi-device 2016) which is capable of defending devices against malicious programmes and hackers. Many security software products combine anti-virus capabilities and advanced parental control features, all of which make it easier to protect children when they are online.

Despite the potential risks, our children should not be scared or shy to go online. Rather, we should equip them with rules, guidelines and the know how to be safe online and to protect their digital identities. As parents we need to embrace responsible online usage and behavior and ensure these kinds of conversations are readily and easily debated in the home environment.

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