As a society, we rely heavily on our devices. Whether we’re connecting with clients over Zoom or catching up on global news stories, our interactions with the online world are unavoidable.
Since the UK entered lockdown on March 23rd, our reliance on technology has increased considerably. As adults, we’re fairly clued up on how to navigate the digital landscape in a safe and cautious manner – but what about our children?
With schools closed and restrictions imposed on social gatherings, spending more time inside has seen young people spend even more time on their devices. Whilst this isn’t necessarily a negative thing, it’s important to know and understand the threats posed to us and our families. If you want to know more, read our advice below.
What are the most popular apps being used at the moment?
At the beginning of lockdown, it seemed as though there was a new video call to attend every night. Social distancing forced us to find new ways of communicating that still managed to provide us with the face-to-face contact we desired, meaning the usage of videoconferencing apps skyrocketed. Platforms such as Zoom, Whatsapp, Houseparty and Skype saw a significant spike in popularity, with more commonplace apps such as Facebook Messenger and FaceTime being used on a more frequent basis.
What are the risks associated with using videoconferencing apps?
As with any internet usage, there are ways in which your sensitive data can be harnessed and abused by hackers. With video calling apps, the biggest threat comes from sharing your contact details with people posing as friends or harmless online acquaintances. Links to Zoom meetings can easily be shared with people online, opening up the possibility of unrequited guests entering chatrooms. There is also the possibility that cameras – both on phones and computers – can be controlled by hackers, meaning that your privacy can be invaded even when you’re not using your device.
Is online gaming dangerous?
If you have children of a certain age, the chances are you’re relatively familiar with online gaming and the array of consoles available to buy. While they provide a welcome escape from the confines of our homes, there can be a darker side to online gaming. One of the most prevalent risks that comes with online gaming is the possibility of cyberbullying and predatory behavior. The vast array of online chatrooms formed by gamers provide the perfect environment for seemingly innocent connections to be formed. However, opportunists are presented with the ideal setting to retrieve sensitive data – such as email and home addresses – from children who don’t recognise the suspicious nature of their requests. It’s also important to be aware of in-game purchases that can appear as children play through games, leading to costly charges for parents.
How can I keep my children safe online?
As a parent, it’s normal to be concerned about who your child interact with when online, but this doesn’t mean you have to restrict their usage altogether. The best way to approach online safety is by having an open and direct conversation about the possible threats they may encounter.
A good place to start is by adapting existing offline safety rules such as not talking to strangers into something that translates to digital interactions. Remind them that they should only be using games and apps to connect with people they know and trust; if they feel as though they are unsure about any advances towards them, then it should be encouraged that they check with a parent.
Ensuring that the parental lock feature on your family accounts is activated is also an effective way to control what your children can access. This can be done by contacting your internet provider or simply by updating your browser’s settings. Most devices that come with an app store allow you to choose what your family can and can’t view or download, as well as the option to turn off in-app purchases.
Navigating the online world as a parent can be tricky at the best of times, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t get it right every time; after all, the digital landscape changes on a daily basis, so keeping up with everything can be challenging.
If you’re looking for some more guidance, leading internet security provider, ESET, carried out a survey asking 2,000 parents with children aged between 2 and 17 about their modern parenting rules. The results have been transformed into this eye-opening infographic below, accompanied
by eight stand-out rules. These include key bits of advice such as “Don’t open links in an email if you’re unsure who sent it” and “Never type anything in a text message you wouldn’t want your parents to read”. To find out more about the survey and the safeguarding precautions you can take, visit ESET’s modern parenting page.
About the author
Claudia works at Performics as a SEO Content Executive for leading internet security provider, ESET.