What can parents, schools and authority figures do to keep children safe in a connected world?

Next story

Part two of a Q&A with the ESET team on keeping children safe online

In part one of our Q&A with the ESET team, we heard about their experiences with cybersecurity and parenting, and the difficulties facing parents today. Now, to gain more insights into how to keep kids safer online, we asked the team what recommendations they would give to other parents, schools and authorities.

Do you have any top tips for teaching kids how to use their technology safely?
Branislav, Product Manager, father of 10-year-old daughter:

  • Use passwords or biometric methods (like a fingerprint) to secure your smartphone.
  • Think twice before sharing pictures of yourself or your relatives — be aware that if you share something on the internet it is there forever, and in many cases you cannot change this fact.
  • Check your sources when searching for answers on the internet. Not every YouTuber or influencer is smarter than you, so it is vital to double check the reliability of a source of information.

Zuzana, Global Segment marketing specialist, mother of 12- and 3-year-old sons:

  • Set up your family rules for using devices — for all family members.
  • Try to find an attractive way to help guide your kids in the online world, such as using videos or quizzes, and watch/make them together. Be interested in what your kids do online and talk to them about the games and apps they like, and about their experiences.

Edo, Global Consumer Sales lead, father of 11-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son:

  • Do not reply to unknown contacts — you never know what their intentions are.
  • Do not share personal data (age, address, etc.).
  • Do not click on advertising, as it may not be appropriate.
  • Keep your device locked — you do not want somebody to steal your pictures.

James, Global PR, father of 11- and 9-year-old daughters:

  • When you are trying to show your kids that an app or technology might be dangerous, find some real-world examples to illustrate your point. With technology, in general, there are plenty of examples how products were introduced only to be shown as harmful much later. For example, in 2019, researchers discovered more than 1,000 apps that harvest your data even when you have set them not to do so.
  • Try to be honest and demonstrate that you are listening. If you know a game or a show’s storyline, you can comment and compare in ways that kids can’t easily dismiss.
  • Use parental control software to help restrict screen time.

Do you think more needs to be done by authorities/schools to teach children about cybersecurity?

Branislav: Definitely — critical thinking learning methods are crucial at early ages. Today we live in a time when lies are spread on the internet faster than the truth, so authorities and schools have a major responsibility in teaching children about responsible behavior online, the possible risks of sharing content online, and how to keep private data private. In many cases, parents are less educated in online skills than children, so authorities should also focus on educating parents in order to give children a good first-hand example.”

Zuzana: “Definitely, yes. I am very unsatisfied with the approach of our school in this area, and I have been challenging them to introduce a continuous preventive program. I believe that cybersecurity and prevention should be a mandatory part of children’s education, as the online environment is an integral part of our lives.”

Edo: “YES! YES! YES! Cybersecurity should be as important as any other subject taught at school. Schools must take it seriously, for the protection of kids, and later society itself. Not all parents are cybersecurity specialists.”

James: “I believe that both authorities and schools should enact very strict measures to control children’s access to both technology and the content that is hosted there. As kids mature, there should be cybersecurity lessons and tests on privacy protection, before kids have full access to the worldwide web and devices with fewer safeguards. This may sound harsh to some, but I don’t believe that parents, schools or even the cybersecurity sector alone can help deliver the right balance unless governments, big internet companies and device manufacturers align to engineer safeguards for at-risk users, including kids.”

Open and ongoing conversations about internet safety should be a major part of your kids’ education. Visit our new website, SaferKidsOnline, for a comprehensive collection of articles, tips, research and other useful info.

We also recommend adding a trusted antivirus software, like ESET Mobile Security, to your child’s mobile phone to help reduce the risks they’re exposed to.