Teach your child safe internet practices and approach parents and mentors if they encounter strange behaviour online.
By Sunil Sharma
Internet safety and cyberbullying are major concerns for parents, coupled with ransomware attacks, keylogging, software attacks and adware, which are giving them sleepless nights. According to a survey by Internet safety group, Webwise, a majority of over 1,200 parents surveyed felt confident of monitoring their child’s online activity, while only one-third felt confident of protecting them from online dangers.
The unrestricted nature of sinister games like the Blue Whale challenge makes the Internet an even darker place to be. We must empower our children with the right Internet security tips to stay safe in the virtual world.
Lock down your Facebook page. Make sure their profile is only shown to their friends—not the friends of friends too—and certainly not the whole world! It’s good to check the privacy settings regularly, too, because Facebook often updates them.
Don’t post anything anywhere on the internet if they don’t want the world to see it. Once you’ve uploaded something, you cannot be sure that it will stay with just the person you’ve sent it to. So if it’s private, don’t share it!
Never give out their address, unless parents have said it’s safe and absolutely necessary (e.g. when requesting a delivery). And never agree to meet in person someone you’ve met online.
Make sure to password protect your phone or any other device in use. And lock it when they’re not using it.
Don’t click on suspicious-looking links. If something appears strange, ask a parent or teacher if it’s okay to click on it.
If a friend has sent you a message, but it looks weird, or isn’t something they would usually say, check with them before you open it. It could be that someone is using their account to send messages which could be infected with something nasty.
Always log out! Make sure they don’t leave any account open when they go away from the computer, phone or other device.
Follow these password rules:
- Never choose passwords which are real words you would find in the dictionary. Use a mixture of upper and lower-case letters, swap out letters for numbers, and use symbols like % and $ too.
- Make your password as long as possible. The longer it is, the harder it is to crack.
- Be creative! Never just use the name of a favourite sports team or band, or a pet’s name. They are too easy to guess, especially if they have previously shared that information online.
- Use a different password for each website you use. If you struggle to remember them, you can use online ‘password management’ software to save them for you. But remember to make your ‘master’ password VERY hard to crack!
- Don’t save the password to your computer if you share it with anyone. And never give anyone their password. Not even their best friend. It’s not silly to keep your password to yourself, it’s safe!
And finally, if it doesn’t look right, speak up! If they think something is suspicious or if they see something upsetting online, teach them to approach a parent or teacher, or report it to the website they’re trying to use.
(The writer is Managing Director Sales at Sophos India & SAARC.)