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Keep children safe online

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This festive season many youngsters will be receiving phones or tablets from Santa.
In today’s technology dominated world, it’s quite normal to be concerned with your child’s safety online. The digital age is here to stay and security for children will be a continuing focus in the foreseeable future.
The question that keeps most parents up at night is their children’s safety online. Cyberspace is fraught with all sorts of dangers from cyber criminals to malware, phishing and social engineering.
“Children are naturally curious and the internet opens a bright new world of information and exploration to them; they can search thousands of topics, play games and make friends. As adults we are aware of some of the pitfalls, but children are not. It’s our job to educate them and make them aware of what’s out there,” says Anvee Alderton, channel manager of Trend Micro Southern Africa.
Problems crop up when children download apps without verifying them, or click on advertisements, videos or websites that may be infected with malware. With one click, malicious software is downloaded onto a device, and the malware may be used to steal information or gain access to other devices on the same network.
Social engineering is also a large concern. It’s easy to hijack another person’s identity online and pretend to be them in a forum. Children might think they are talking and sharing information with a friend, when in fact, the person behind the screen is an adult who is gathering personal information from the child.
“It is quite frightening to think about what’s out there in cyberspace. Of course we want our children to have a safe experience. Don’t under estimate the simplicity of imposing a password each time something needs to be downloaded. Trend Micro also provides a number of mobile security apps that will alert you if there is a problem with the app you’ve downloaded,” explains Alderton.
Starting a conversation about cybersecurity is something that should be undertaken the moment any child begins to use the internet. Monitoring what children are viewing and ensuring that the content is age appropriate and not malicious is also vital in keeping your children safe online.
“Teach your children that it’s good to think twice before clicking on a link. Kids should also be taught that if an offer looks like it’s too good to be true — like winning a prize for a competition they didn’t enter — it’s most likely got a malicious actor behind it. The other thing to bring home to children is that if they wouldn’t say something to someone in real life, it’s best they don’t do that online either. Online bullying is a very real issue,” Alderton says.
If there are connected devices in your child’s Christmas stocking this year, make sure that the adult restrictions are turned on, anti-virus is installed and passwords are added to ensure safe use of smart devices. Ensure that children are made aware of the dangers of the internet early on. Just like learning to safely cross the road, or avoiding talking to strangers, make cybersecurity a conversation that will not only protect your data, but your children as well.