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Cybersecurity for children: Why we should teach children online-surfing rules
Wednesday, February 16, 2022
During our first outdoor walks, our parents tell us that a road should be crossed only on green. When we get a little older, they tell us that we should not talk to strangers. From childhood, we are taught the rules that will help protect us and make the lives of our parents and those close to us more peaceful. But today, we have to teach our children and grandchildren both the classical rules and the new Internet ones. Any child today spends a lot of time on the Internet, so adults should make this environment as safe as possible. The topic of today’s issue is protecting children on the Internet.
Why we should teach children cybersecurity
We’ve often mentioned how many “adult” dangers lurk on the Internet. One of the missions of the Anti-virus Times is to protect readers from all possible forms of deceit and threats. We regularly write about phishing, uncover fraudulent schemes and warn users against downloading files from unknown sites. However, we seldom draw our readers’ attention to security for children.
It is important that every child understand that on the Internet they need to behave the same way as in real life—be wary of strangers, “don’t open the doors” of social networks to strangers, and make purchases only in trusted stores.
It is only at first glance that the Internet seems safe and anonymous. Often children do not see and do not feel the need to be responsible for their actions in cyberspace. For most children, this is some kind of alternate universe that in no way intersects with reality. Up to a certain point, any user feels that way, regardless of their age, but in reality, it turns out that online and offline are closely related to each other.
Sometimes an innocent comment under a photo on a social networking site leads to a live meeting between two virtual friends. This can be equally dangerous both for children and for adults—no one can know in advance what the true purpose of this meeting is and how it will end. It is necessary to prevent situations when a school-aged child makes a virtual friend, without thinking that the person on the other side of the screen may not be what they appear. Children should always remember that on the Internet, if possible, they should avoid talking to people who are strangers to them in real life. At the same time, there are situations when an attacker, having hijacked an account or made its “clone”, pretends to be a real friend. Warn your child that such a situation might happen.
The same is true of files that get onto a child's computer or smartphone. A child may download malware through a lack of knowledge, and that will bring unnecessary problems. Of course, Dr.Web reliably protects both PCs and mobile devices, but children can accidentally or intentionally disable the anti-virus. Dr.Web often detects threats related to downloading illegal content, as we regularly report in our virus activity reviews. For example, in September the popular threats included Adware.Downware.19856 and Adware.Downware.19925, adware that acts as an intermediate installer of illegal programs.
How to protect your child
Before you start a conversation with your children on this topic, do everything you can to protect them on the Internet. By that, we mean you need to configure one of Dr.Web’s key components—Parental Control. It will help you restrict access to unwanted sites, adjust time spent online, or even block access to specified folders. At the beginning of June, we described how to configure this module.
Unfortunately, even if a child is restricted from visiting various Internet resources, the security problem is not completely solved. It is important to support any action taken with clear explanations. The more you talk about cybersecurity with your child, the better. Give real examples, tell them what they should pay attention to when talking to strangers, and also, if possible, control their online associations. Of course, verifying who a child is chatting with or talking to will be easier when it comes to primary school age children. A teenager will no longer be happy with such an intervention, so in this case it’s enough just to talk with older children.
The Anti-virus Times recommends
- Configure Dr.Web Parental Control.
- Remind your children about online safety rules and don't forget to draw parallels with real life. Remember that the health and security of your children depend on this.
- You should not forbid your child to use messengers, social networks or even the Internet in general. Any clearheaded parent knows that when used correctly, the World Wide Web is a storehouse of valuable and relevant knowledge.
- Read our Anti-virus Times issues to regularly enrich your computer-security knowledge base.