No More Excuses! It’s Cyber Security Awareness Week!
If you have been putting off addressing your family’s cyber security – possibly in the too hard basket – then your time has run out. This week is National Cyber Security Awareness Week so there is absolutely no more room for excuses!
National Cyber Security Awareness Week is an annual event organised by the Australian Government to help Aussies understand the risks of the cyber world as well as educating them about how to protect their personal and financial information online.
As a mum of four boys, I spend most of my life at sporting events, reading groups or birthday parties. And whether it is around the soccer field or while on canteen duty, my conversations with fellow parents always seem to centre on all things online. From Facebook and Skype to online gaming or Xbox live, parents are concerned about how to navigate the digital world. How long should their kids be able to have online? How can parents get them off? And, most importantly, how can they protect them?
I totally understand how overwhelmed some parents can feel when it comes to negotiating anything cyber with their kids. There are days where I have to remove myself from the battlefield – I have even been known to sit in the car just so I can regroup and avoid having a conniption!
So, after I have had a few cups of tea and calmed down, I dust off my parental cyber security management plan, which goes a little like this:
- Draw up rules about the time allowed on the computer. Decide on a reasonable amount of time for your children and STICK TO IT! Use the oven timer, or better still, install parental controls and activate the usage controls that allow you to choose what hours your children can access the computer.
- Make sure you help your kids set up their privacy settings on social networking sites such as Facebook. This is a great way of ensuring your children’s private information can only be viewed by approved friends. And don’t forget about yourself – Check your settings as well!
- Install security software to protect your computer against viruses, hackers and spyware. It is impossible to be constantly standing over your child’s shoulder whilst they are online so having comprehensive security software will minimise the risk of your children doing things like (accidentally!!?) downloading a nasty virus when entering competitions for free phones!
- Get involved in your kids’ cyber lives. Make sure they have you as a friend on Facebook and talk to them about what they are doing online: what forums do they like visiting? What games are they playing online? You are not spying, simply finding out how they spend their time online and being there to catch them if they fall! Also, keep in mind your kids will also use their phones to access the internet and check Facebook.
- Encourage kids to speak up if they feel uncomfortable with anything that happens online by talking to their parents, school teacher or via the use of the Government’s Cybersafety Help button. And remind your children that people they meet online are strangers and may not always be the person they say they are.
Now, I know implementing a plan might seem a little overwhelming. But I really believe we owe it to our children to keep them safe online. The internet can be a fantastic place for your children to learn, socialise and grow. In my opinion, to ban them from the online world would be to genuinely deny them a truly life changing experience.
So, back yourself. Implement your plan and keep your kids safe online. Yes, you might be unpopular when their turn is finished, but remember you are doing this because you love them!