In the year 2020, a midweek look inside the typical home is very different than in years past. Usually, a home during the week would be empty, with kids off at school, parents working, apart from the few fortunate homes here or there with a parent and small children at home, or possibly a home schooled child, or the very rare parent working from home. Now, if we were to take a look inside the typical American home midweek, there would be parents at either end of the dining table trying to coordinate their work from home meetings so as not to talk over each other’s remote work sessions, along with children in recently bought home desks, “Zoom’d” into their virtual classrooms for math or history. With our homes being utilized far more than normal, in many different ways touching technology, a personal focus on cybersecurity can mean the difference between a protected family and
- Be aware of what your children are accessing online. While a major part of . The Erikson Institute found in 2018 that technology use by children age 6 and under was found to be universal — 100% of parents surveyed said that their children had a comprehensive grasp of how to use many different devices by the young, kindergarten age. Many of these children do not know how to write their own names just yet, but they can navigate an iPad or smart phone to find their favorite TV show with ease. While many children are using their various devices to access this online entertainment content as well as their school websites while doing school from home, sometimes they can click on the wrong thing that takes them down a rabbit hole away from what you as a parent would deem appropriate for them. While they may not have accessed this information intentionally, it is important for you as a parent to be aware of the sites that your children are accessing. Tips: Set up Parental Controls as needed to protect your child; while allowing children to explore and learn while online is helpful for their growth and independence, it is also incredibly important to protect them from the parts of the Internet which they are not yet ready to encounter.
- Keep devices’ software up-to-date. While pop-up notifications on your smart devices or computers can be annoying and easily waved away by an annoyed child who doesn’t care about the latest software update, it is very important to keep your and your child’s devices up-to-date to protect against cyber attacks. This is a simple, relatively painless task that takes minutes but can save you future headache from slowed down, infected devices.
- Cover unused cameras to protect against social engineering attacks. Many of us are working from home and have children completing their work from home as well, mostly via use of laptop computers. Many teachers encourage the use of webcams to ensure that those students are not only in attendance but to encourage participating in these somewhat oddly set up classes. While this is a great way to stay connected while far from each other, it needs to become common practice for your children and you to cover these cameras up when not in use. Vile cybercriminals on the Internet have been known to hack into unprotected computers and use those uncovered webcams to take photos of users and hold those photos over these victims’ heads either as blackmail or some other malicious intention. A simple piece of tape or a removeable cover can help to make the difference between protection and becoming a victim.
- Use complex passwords for children’s logins (and keep track of them!). Even as an adult individual, it can be difficult to not only come up with enough unique passwords for all of your various logins, but to keep track of what those passwords are is a job in and of itself. Despite this difficulty, this task of strong, unique password protection is even more important for children whose private information is very sensitive, and consequently, very important to protect. Tips: While you should keep track of your various passwords and your children’s, you don’t have to do it on your own. Tools such as KeePass, a password “safe” for your various logins, can help to make this task less daunting. You only need to keep track of your one login (your password vault/safe login) which will then keep your other login information protected.
- Teach your kids about cyberbullying & how to be a good online citizen. There are many aspects of our current climate that can be draining mentally, especially for children who are less aware of all that is going on. One that is especially bad right now with all of the interactions children are having being solely online is cyberbullying. Talk to your kids about cyberbullying and make sure they know that they can talk to you about it if they are being bullied online. Just as important as this, be sure to teach your kids to be good online citizens, help ensure they are not cyberbullies by teaching them online etiquette and general kindness. Some additional tips to help you with these conversations can be found in a previous Tego Cyber blog article here!
- Encourage open and honest communication to create a supportive cyber environment for your family. Open and honest communication is not only important when it comes to cyberbullying, but about everything when it comes to the online world. The Internet is a vast and wide-open plane that children today are growing up within. They may have questions that cause uncomfortable conversations, but encouraging them to be honest and communicative with you can mean the difference between their security online and malicious actors on the Internet preying on their naivety and innocence. Making sure they have a healthy relationship with technology and the Internet is one of the new, very important aspects of being a 21st century parent.
- Be sure to put down the devices, get up, and play! Too much technology, especially on social media sites, can be terrible for any person’s mental health, especially a child or teen. This is why it is incredibly important that you as a family put down the phones and iPads, close the laptops, and make time to spend together! Play board games to get their little minds active in different ways than they are with school. Get outside & get some sunshine! A tool to help you know when you or your family members have had enough tech for the day is a feature available on many smart devices like tablets and phones called App Limit. This feature allows you to set time limits you or your kids spend on each application on your devices. These are features you can download from the app store or that are included within your phone already. Be sure to put the phones and other devices down & spend time together to get that sense of normalcy back during all of this craziness.
While pets around the world are rejoicing having their humans home so often, this shift to being home all the time can be overwhelming at times, trying to balance all of one’s hats as a parent, employee, now teaching assistant, cafeteria worker, and more, all at once while trying to maintain one’s sanity! Becoming your own family’s at-home cyber professional can seem like a daunting new hat to add to your closet which is full of various job roles already, however, prioritizing your family’s cyber safety can help to save your peace of mind for years to come.