(3 minute read)
The television being a curse or a boon was a popular essay topic across schools in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Technology was just creating ripples and the necessity of its existence was still debated. The same cannot be said about today. Today’s childhood is vastly different from the one even a decade ago, exposing children not only to a world of possibilities but also a few potential risks.
Most of the results from a simple Google search for ‘Cyber safety tips for parents’ will throw the suggestion which sounds something like - have an open conversation with your child and make them aware of the cyber crime. It is generic and overused because it is true, and the best starting point.
Additionally, there are simple, actionable steps parents can take. These are not all-encompassing and use them as per your discretion and environment of the household -
Child lock for app download: Every time your child downloads an app, you have to enter the password. This ensures you are in loop all the time.
(a) Android: Play Store → Settings → User Controls → Content filtering Check the maturity level you prefer to use
(Back in the settings under User Controls, you will see "Require password for purchases". Select the best option)
(b) App Store: Settings → General → Restrictions
Child lock for YouTube: Go to Setting on the YouTube App about turn on Filtering.
Install a reliable antivirus on smartphones and tablets
Teach children to choose strong passwords: Strong passwords have eight characters or more and use a combination of letters, numbers and symbols (e.g., # $ % ! ?). Avoid using any of the following as your password: your login name, anything based on your personal information such as your last name, and words that can be found in the dictionary.
To make sure online activity happens under parental/adult supervision, create a ‘online zone’ or ‘tech zone’ in a common area of the house. This area can be specifically designated for usage of gadgets.
Google yourself/your child: Once a while, Google yourself and your child. Check for Good Images also. If an image comes up that you don’t want online, go to the website where it is published and make it private. If there is incorrect information about you, get it corrected.
Give them a ‘Cyber Safety Voucher’: Usually children don’t confide in parents about suspicious activity online because they fear their devices would be taken away. Tell your children that they have a voucher and can redeem it to tell parents about suspicious online activity/experiences. For that, they wouldn’t be yelled at/scolded (and devices not be taken away!)
Be aware about what your child does on the computer/tab/phone. This is best done through open communication rather than the checking their devices when they are not around
Openly and frequently appreciate the good behavior that they practice online
Encourage them to find out about things that will keep the computer safe (eg. anti- virus/firewall/screen guard for the monitor etc.)
For interested parents, Facebook For Parents is a great portal offering tons if insights on parenting on Facebook.
“Children should be encouraged to perform tasks offline too if there is an option to do so - relying on technology must also be responsibly done”, says Avinash Jhangiani, father of an 8-year old, renowned expert and faculty on Digital Marketing and Technology Innovation. While eliminating all risks from everything we do is not possible, it is wise to do all we can. Cyber crime is highly preventive in nature and awareness is all it takes.
Mindchamp is also hosting an awareness seminar for parents on Cyber Safety in Mumbai. Leave your Email ID here for us to keep you posted about the details.