Q&A with kids: Talking about feeling safe online

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These days, children grow up in a hyper-connected world where technology is present in practically every facet of their lives. From interactive learning to instant communication through smartphones and social media, kids are immersed in tech from an early age.

This can make it hard for parents—especially those who might not be as tech savvy—to know exactly how to manage their children’s use of technology. Most people have not received formal training on how to use technology safely, and even if they have, things change so rapidly that it can feel like you are constantly playing catch-up.

In order to try to understand how kids are feeling about staying safe online, four members of the ESET team spoke to their children to ask them about their experiences with computers and mobile devices.

Have you had lessons at school about how to be safe online?

Sara, 11 years old: “No. We have IT lessons, which are more related to the usage of devices, not about security and what to avoid or be careful about.”

Adela, 11 years old: “No, we didn’t have lessons at my primary school about how to be safe online or how to surf the internet. The only information I have about how to be safe online is from my older sister and parents.”

Max, 12 years old: “We watched some [safety] videos when we were younger at school, but I think we should watch some [more] now because most of us have started to use social media, and I don’t think we know how to use it properly. In my opinion, we should learn more about it or just talk about it more because it's very important to know about dangers on social media.”

Darma, 11 years old: “Yes, I had a lesson about it in the fifth grade, but now I am in the sixth grade … maybe we should have more?”

Top tip: While schools may provide some lessons on how to stay safe online, don’t rely on this to keep your children safe. Providing your kids with clear and simple advice on how to use their devices securely is crucial.

For help in how to do so, visit Safer Kids Online. Designed especially for parents, teachers and other guardians, ESET’s collection of articles, tips and other resources will help you teach children how to use technology, the internet and their devices safely and responsibly.

Do you feel safe when you use a computer, mobile phone or tablet?

Sara: “In general, I am not afraid. However, I am cautious about what applications or content I see or click on. If there is something I would be afraid of, it would be if somebody erased my photos.”

Darma: “I feel safe when I use a computer or mobile phone because I have ESET there to protect me.”

Max: “It depends what I'm doing on my smartphone or laptop. I feel much safer when I am just watching some videos or listening to music, but when I am on social media like TikTok or Instagram, I feel I have to be more careful. For example, I have to decide which photos, videos or messages are okay to share with other people, or if I want to share a joke if it would be understood and appropriate.” 

Top tip: Having comprehensive antivirus software, such as ESET Mobile Security, installed on any mobile device that kids are using is a big help in preventing problems before they arise. Combined with straightforward advice, this is a great first step to making sure that children are not exposed to harmful or dangerous content.  

Who would you go to if you did not feel safe online?

Darma: “I would go to my dad or mom.”

Max: “I don't feel unsafe on the internet but if I did, I would tell my mum because she works for an antivirus company and she speaks with me about those things. I mostly watch videos or listen to music—not such dangerous activities. I joined Instagram recently, but I don't post often, and if I want to post something I make sure not to share my face or any other private information. My account is private, so I don't feel very unsafe.”

Adela: “If I didn’t feel safe online, I would go to my older sister, but only because she has better ‘online skills’ than my mum.”

Sara: “Daddy.”

Top tip: Children need to feel safe going to their parents with any questions or issues they may have concerning technology, so that if a serious problem arises, they know who to turn to. By having open conversations about both your and their experiences with technology, you can get an understanding of how to best advise them on how to be safe.