Cybersecurity Awareness Month in October is always an opportune time for children and their parents or guardians to collaborate on making homes safer for children online.
Now, recent unsettling world events have reinforced the message that the Internet is no place for unsupervised minors.
According to Sasha Booth-Beharilal, chair of the Internet Service Providers’ Association of South Africa: “While the Internet is a great enabler of education, parents and guardians must realise online and offline threats from bullies to predators are very real. Fortunately, active and aware parenting coupled with the right technological tools can do much to protect children in cyberspace.”
ISPA says open, honest, two-way communication with children, particularly high-schoolers and pre-teens, is vital to enhancing their online safety.
Talk to your child about cyber safety and listen to their online experiences. Explain to them the importance of being just as safe online as offline. Remind them that social media posts can come back to haunt them later in life, jeopardising future job, education and relationship prospects.
Next, the security and privacy settings of any smart devices and toys connected to the Internet must be checked often. Regularly review the permissions of apps your children may access. Apps accessing device cameras or contacts are worthy of concern.
The privacy settings of all your household’s social media accounts must likewise be regularly scrutinised. Remember that age restrictions on social media exist for sound reasons. Avoid giving younger children unfettered access to social media.
Preferences and privacy settings are useful when it comes to blocking cyberbullies. When it comes to bullies online; advise children to not respond, to not retaliate, to save the evidence for their parents or guardians and to report abusive comments to administrators.
Remember to secure electronic devices that should not be accessed by children with PINs, passwords or biometrics. Don’t underestimate your children’s ability to guess your PIN.
It is important to note that ISPA always advises on the necessity of reporting cybercrime. When reporting a cybercrime at a local police station, it is imperative that it be forwarded to the SAPS Cybercrime Division.
Finally, any parent or person who suspects illegal online activity has a powerful tool in the form of ISPA’s Take-Down Notice (TDN) procedure.Unlawful Content that infringes on personal rights such as harassment or hate speech, and that is also being unknowingly hosted by an ISPA member, can be subject to a formal TDN request in terms of the Electronic Communications & Transactions Act, 2002.