Cyber Security and How to Raise Children Who Understand the Importance

October is Cyber security Awareness Month, and a good time to focus on how to raise children who actually understand the importance of cybersecurity. 

Cyber security includes knowing how to ensure that we are protected in the cyber world and the online space. It is important aa people of all ages use technology, social media, our devices, email and all other activities online. Finally, the right knowledge is important to protect yourself from falling into the potential risk that exists when you are online. 

As discussed in our recently concluded 8th Annual Parenting Conference, when it comes to parenting in the digital age; there is no copy and paste to follow. As the first set of parents raising digital natives, we are literally figuring it out on the go.

Numbers Projected on Face

Dealing with the Realities of the Digital World

In comparison when it comes to physical life, a lot of us know what to teach children. For example, how to greet, how to say please and thank you. For the physical world, no matter where you live, there are basic things that are expected across different cultures and countries. There are certain things that are accepted norms when you are raising a child.

However, when it comes to the digital space and cyber security, we are all playing catch up and because it is so new; people don’t know what is expected. Our children are born into a digital world and don’t necessarily know where to draw the line between when sharing online is inappropriate or too much. They are used to living and consuming the lives of others on the go. As parents, we need to be there to remind them that because we are online, doesn’t mean that the basics of common sense have disappeared. 

when it comes to the digital space and cyber security, we are all playing catch up and because it is so new; people don't know what is expected. Our children are born into a digital world and don't necessarily know where to draw the line. Click To Tweet

So for parents, what we want is to start thinking about how we and our children show up online as second nature. When it comes to intentional parenting, think about the virtual world, just the same way you will think about the physical world, and try to make sure that things are mirroring each other as much as possible. This means stop saying,” I just don’t understand this tech world”, or “I don’t understand what my child is always doing online”. Rather imagine if the situation was about the physical, would you say the same thing?

For example, most parents won’t think it is okay not to know who their children’s friends are. Or if someone asked you who your child went to a playdate with, you would know. No responsible parent is going to leave their child unsupervised in the real world. For younger children, you would know where they went, you would know what time you are picking him up etc. So as simplistic as that sounds, we need to start bringing that into the online space as well, when we’re thinking about cybe security and what it means to protect our children online. 

It is important that we start moving away from just monitoring because this is just one aspect of it. We need to start moving into having real conversations about what is appropriate online. Click To Tweet

Man in Black Hoodie Having a Video Call

Teach How to Show Up Online 

As parents, while monitoring and parental software is a good place to start, you can’t only focus on this as the only way to protect them. Because if you only focus on monitoring them, that means you’re not teaching about how to show up online. When it comes to how to be responsible, the conversation needs to be more about what they should be doing online versus only focusing on what they shouldn’t be doing. And that’s the fine line between raising a responsible digital citizen. Ultimately, you want to move away from constantly telling them what not to do, and working with them to know what to do online. 

Online Attacks are Real 

First of all, let’s keep in mind that the attacks are happening online are real and happening daily. In addition to the frequency, the cyber crimes are much more sophisticated than before. As an example, a cyber attack, could include somebody, hacking your system and getting access to your passwords. I am sure we’ve heard of people whose social media accounts have been hacked. And anybody can be a victim of this. However, with some good precautions, the risks can be reduced. 

When it comes to the real world, and you are raising your child, you don’t expect your child to give anybody a copy of their house keys; neither would you expect them to share the your home security system password with anyone.

When it comes to passwords, this is like the key to your online world. When someone is able to hack your system, they can now do all sorts of things; such as steal your data or impersonate you among other things. So you want to help your child understand what it means to avoid being a victim of hacking.

Everyone should practise creating good passwords. It should be a mix of uppercase lowercase symbols, don't use passwords that is easy for anybody to guess. Click To Tweet

Thats said, one very simple thing you can take away is to make sure that your passwords are strong. A lot of people use very simple passwords, such as their child’s name, their birth date, or their pet. All those things are very easy to be guessed by cybercriminals. Everyone should practise creating good passwords.

It should be a mix of uppercase lowercase symbols, don’t use passwords that is easy for anybody to guess. And don’t use the same password across all your accounts. A lot of people are guilty of using the same password for all accounts. While it can be tough to remember all, learn to have a general pattern you use (not easy to replicate) and use a password manager to help you manage all the different passwords. Do not make it easy for cybercriminals to succeed.

The sad reality is that when it comes to hacking, because most people use the same password for everything, once the hacker figures out one password, guess what? it’s easy to get all the others

Clicking on Links to Download Material 

For a lot of people, you can easily see between one to a 100 pop-up banners daily. As a result of algorithms and cookies, they are set up in such a way to serve you more of what you are doing online. This is why for example today if you were to start looking for a birthday cake, for example, you will suddenly start seeing a lot of ads popping up for birthday cakes just because you googled it.

From a digital marketing expert perspective, I know that what is happening is retargeting. So once you search for something you are being retargeted for a particular period of time. When it comes to cyber security, we all have to be very careful about what you click on. Because something is popped up does not mean you should click on it. Everybody should pause before they click on any links online or download just any file or App.

When it comes to cyber security, teach your children to be more vigilant. For example, they will know better than to click on the link to win a PS5! Click To Tweet

When it comes to cybersecurity, teach your children this, so they will be more vigilant. For example, they will know better than to click on the link to win a PS5! Cybercriminals have become much smarter and gone are the days where you are going to get poorly written emails telling you that the contact is a prince and he really needs you to send some money. 

Security Updates 

Many users get messages on their phones asking you to install a new software update. The reality is that a lot of people ignore it. But you want to make sure that you’re always updating your systems because those companies themselves are constantly working against being hacked. So every time they find a bug or a gap, they’re constantly updating their systems and improving security. So if you don’t keep it updated, then you might be more susceptible to being hacked. 

We are focusing on talking to your children regularly about cybersecurity so that they are aware. The more we talk about it, the more it becomes second nature. Click To Tweet

The Allure of Oversharing 

The average person is showing up online with the purest intentions. And while you cannot possibly be thinking about what cyberattacks might be lurking, we need to all be more careful. So for example, you get online and share a post saying that you are travelling tomorrow with your location turned on. I remember recently when I took a trip, I was amazed to find out that Snapchat showed somebody in the airport at the same time as me. The app showed the person’s avatar holding a travelling bag. So I reached out to the person and asked if they were in the airport? And they answered “Yes they were about to travel” and wondered how I knew? Snapchat has given me that info.

Sit back and imagine you are talking to a child about this scenario in the context of cyber security. If your child says “What’s the big deal about oversharing online?” Help them to see the potential security risk of everyone knowing that at that very moment, he or she is in the airport and about to travel.

Get them to think about it from that perspective and that you don’t have to give the whole world your itinerary. And I think just raising that awareness helps us to think before we post. A good exercise is to check out their social media handles and confirm if their accounts are private? Encourgae your child not to give access to their lives to everybody in the world online. 

online safety and cyber security

Keep Personal Information Safe

When it comes to personal information. do not share information based on an email or text you receive. Even cyber criminals understand the power of personalized email. And it is really not that difficult today to get your email and or phone number. Anyone can send an email asking for personal information; such as a date of birth, ATM pin or card number!

Always err on the side of caution and either call your account officer to confirm or simply ignore such messages. Most likely if a company needs information from you they will call, and it is important to note that most reputable companies will never ask you for personal information. 

Most likely if a company needs information from you they will call, and it is important to note that most reputable companies will never ask you for personal information. Click To Tweet

Cyber security is a journey and a process, no one has all the answers, but it is imperative that we are aware of how to be safe online. As parents raising digital natives, having these conversations about how to show up responsibly online will go a long way versus only  talking about what not to do!

Read Also:

Parents Do Not Understand Social Media

Top Parenting Books for Raising Digital Citizens

Protect kids Online

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