The back to school frenzy of today has gone digital. And not just for parents looking to catch the best deals online – but more and more, schools require children to have Internet-enabled devices as digital education resources become more available. If you are worried about what your kids may be exposed to when surfing the net, you are not alone! While the online world is full of education, information and fun – and if used correctly offers huge benefits to every child – the problem is that the Internet is not always a safe place. In fact. according to a recent survey from Kaspersky, 6 out of 10 (60%) families have directly experienced or seen an online safety threat incident, with children seeing harmful content and Internet addiction are the most common threats.
Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), or e-learning, is gaining popularity across public and private schools in South Africa. The norm today is that tablets and smart devices are no longer luxury gadgets for kids but are becoming far more essential learning tools. This can often mean that children will spend more time on their devices away from parental guidance. And even under the supervision of parents or teachers, it’s often difficult to keep sight of all online activity.
Therefore, online protection for children should become an essential part of any back-to-school preparation, especially for parents wanting more peace of mind.
The good news is that the risk can be reduced with supervised Internet use. Therefore, parents should examine how they can protect their children’s devices and online access – especially as they spend most of their day at school. With added online protection for these devices, parents are given enhanced control of not only the websites their children visit, and the applications they use, but parents are also able to manage their children’s mobile data use. What’s even better, parents can regulate time spent online – restricting them even in free Wi-Fi hotspots areas.
We all know how easy it is to get distracted online and end up on pages you had no intention on visiting. Imagine how much easier it is for younger and more curious minds to be veered off course. For example, during a research assignment, a child may wonder onto the wrong website with inappropriate content, or malicious cyber threats. And even when you try to get them the ‘right or approved apps’, in-app advertising raises considerable concerns around inappropriate content that is being advertised to children. Not to mention that parents are now also faced with unwanted nagging epidemics from children who are keen to experience more from their games.
Here are some back to school device tips for securing your child’s device:
- Discuss the associated benefits and risks – While children often know a lot about devices, some may even know more than their parents, as the parent it is crucial to lay out the boundaries and explain why these are important for their wellbeing and safety. For example, while geotagging is great for navigational purposes – advise children to only keep it on when necessary as malicious onlookers do make use of such functions to target potential victims – and children should be cautious and limit opportunities for a person or cybercriminal with dubious intent to track their online and physical movements.
- Set a password – It’s standard but encouraging children to have unique passwords featuring a mix of numbers and symbols, and to change them often, is a good place to start to avoid victimisation and limit unwarranted access to their device. Make sure that you are aware of the password.
- Explore – With all the responsibilities that come with parenting, there’s often no time to play with gadgets. But still, it is important to take the time to explore the device and its manual to better understand the features yourself. Whether it is a device from school or one you have purchased that your child uses at school or home. It is also important to speak to the school about their mobile device policy and what cybersecurity they have in place.
Education in the digital age has undoubtedly become more exciting, where children are exposed to a wealth of information. Paperless classrooms are becoming more prevalent, which is why a good online security solution – coupled with ongoing education on online risks, protection and safe behaviour – will equip parents with the confidence they need to protect their children, while still allowing them to explore the web appropriately.