Keeping kids and parents safe online

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This Saturday, the 1st of June, is the Global Day of Parents – a day proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2012 to honor parents throughout the world. At the same time many countries will also be celebrating International Children’s Day and, at ESET, we felt this was the perfect opportunity to think about the tremendous role of parents in caring for their children and the growing challenges they face. We all know parenting is one of the hardest jobs many of us will ever do, and some would say it’s getting even more difficult when considering the growing dangers children face online.

As technology continues to expand with new digital platforms, so too does the potential for risk to occur. It’s important for parents to remember that when a child is surfing the internet, they can become privy to a whole host of unsuitable content from the outside world, even though they are safe and well within the four walls of their home. Parents need to set rules and guidelines, and fortunately there is software to help them do this, but, in turn, society needs to help parents maneuver this complex issue.

The potential risks are widespread and continue to grow. No longer just a by-product of online chat rooms, cyberbullying can take many forms and encompasses different types of online abuse, as any connected device can be used to harass, stalk or abuse another person. Other issues include the possible dangers resulting from releasing too much personal information when sharing information online, as well as the risks of children becoming online addicts. And a 2018 report from Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, revealed that a quarter of parents said they were worried about their children disclosing details to inappropriate people online, meaning parents also have to deal with concerns around online ‘stranger danger’.

Governments, companies and society at large have a responsibility to help parents talk to their children about their online exploits. And it’s for this reason that in the near future, ESET will launch its brand-new resource site, Safer Kids Online. The site is dedicated to building a safer online environment for children around the world. It covers a variety of topics offering parents, as well as their children and teachers, expert advice and content on how to engage with the internet safely.

Software can also help, and ESET Parental Control allows parents to control inappropriate web content and manage the amount of time kids spend on certain devices, as well as the suitability of the applications they’re using. This means parents could limit their child’s use of certain sites and receive reports on their children’s online activities, hopefully becoming aware of any issues resulting from online activity before it’s too late.

However, the most important thing parents can do is work with their children to educate and inform them about their online worlds so that kids are in a position to learn about keeping themselves safe online. ESET’s software advocates and enables this by ensuring parents and children work together. Parents can send a priority message that their children must acknowledge before carrying on their use of the device, and children can also request exceptions for limits on screen time. By creating a place where parents and children work together, kids might also be more likely to involve their parents in their online worlds and talk to them about any worries.    

The resources to help parents educate their kids on potential internet dangers are infinite, but nothing replaces a healthy watchful eye over a child’s internet activities. And so, as we celebrate this year’s Global Day of Parents and International Children’s Day, it’s important to think about how we can further support parents to do the hardest job of them all – keeping children safe.