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Connected kids

Written by Emma Dawson • Online since 4.10.2017 • Filed under Feature • From Issue Fifteen - October to December 2017 page(s) 8-9
Connected kids

We all know that keeping children safe online is one of today’s biggest challenges for parents. While you cannot monitor your child’s every move online, ‘other people’ are – think cybercriminal, elicit content providers and cyber bullies, to name a few.

Emma Dawson attended one of Kaspersky Lab’s cybersecurity roadshows in Cape Town to learn about the dangers for children and what parents need to know.

In partnership with Active Education, Kaspersky Lab – a global cybersecurity company – embarked on a series of interactive cybersecurity roadshows at selected schools in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The roadshows were aimed at driving awareness around online safety for children aged seven to 13. Topics covered key issues relating to children’s vulnerability online, including cyberbullying, safe social media behaviour, and general rules for online protection. Children were supplied with relevant examples of what could happen online, and why their safety in this space is so important. A fun and engaging programme ensured they could relate to the content.

Safety online

‘Children have access to so many technologies today – mobile phones, social media, games and more,’ explains Riaan Badenhorst, general manager for Kaspersky Lab Africa. ‘While the internet provides many benefits to children, we know that it can also be a dangerous place and keeping kids safe online has become a major challenge for parents. In fact, our research shows that 53% of parents are afraid that their children could be faced with inappropriate content online. There is an important need to educate and create awareness about safety online, for children and for parents. We certainly feel that these activations are a good way to assist in achieving this.’

Beware of the dangers

Today, most children have access to the Internet and many parents don’t really know how they spend their time online. According to parental control module data, children have a high level of curiosity relating to sites that fall into the category ‘alcohol, tobacco, drugs’. Last year, experts globally noticed an increase in children’s interest in this topic and it continues to develop.

The data shows that 23% of children in Cape Town are interested in this subject, which is higher than in South Africa in general (18%) and in Johannesburg (20%). ‘In many regions we connect this phenomenon with the popularity of vapers among adolescents,’ Vladislav Tushkanov, junior data scientist at Kaspersky Lab, explains.

According to the same research, 60% of South African children access the internet for communication media purposes. 53% of children in Cape Town are mostly interested in Internet communication media – in the majority of cases this is referred to as social media.

Experts identify several major threats associated with social networks. For example, strangers with whom children in social networks make contact with more easily than in real life. A research report South Africa Kids Online shows that 30% of children added new people to their social media friends list that they have never met in real life. The situation is aggravated bythe fact that children often publish their address or school number in social networks, and indicate places and locations where they go. In fact, 67% of children shared details about the school they attend and 54% shared their places and locations, which can put them at risk of potential harm.

Cyberbullying

Additionally, in recent years, children are increasingly faced with cyberbullying – humiliation or harassment through electronic communication tools. The same research shows that 22% of children reported being treated in a hurtful or nasty way in the past year. How could a parent know that a child has something wrong happening on their social networks?

Kaspersky Lab’s experts identify several key features:

• Sudden changes in mood for no apparent reason

• Changing the style of use of the digital device and social networks (for example, the child begins to wake up at night to go online)

• A sharp increase or decrease in the number of ‘friends’ in the social network

• The appearance of ‘friends’ with a big age difference

• Abusive images and messages on the child’s page

• The child deletes the page on social networks.

A safe digital experience

To help children avoid threats that are trapped in social networks, Kaspersky Lab experts advise parents to talk with their children to educate them about correct behaviour and security on the Internet. This includes the following warnings:

• It is not recommended to publish too much personal information that attackers can use.

• It is not advised to join groups with potentially dangerous content, for example, about weapons, drugs, suicide.

• Children should never follow links from unknown recipients: tempting offers can lead to infected pages.

‘To ensure that a child has a safe digital experience it is necessary to monitor their time on the Internet and develop digital literacy, both among children and adults. Adults need to build trust with their children. If you just limit them from spending time on social networks or other potentially dangerous sites, then in a really difficult situation they will be afraid to ask for help from parents/guardians andremain alone with the problem,’ explains Vladislav Tushkanov, junior data scientist, Kaspersky Lab.

The Kaspersky Total Security and Kaspersky Internet Security consumer solutions include a Parental Control module to help adults protect their children against online threats and block sites or apps with inappropriate content. Kaspersky Lab also offers the Kaspersky Safe Kids solution that allows parents to understand what their children do, see or search for online across all devices, including mobile devices, and to get useful advice on how to help children behave safely online.

More educational tips for parents can be found at https://kids.kaspersky.com/, and for kids at https://kids.kaspersky.com/kids/.

Issue Fifteen - October to December 2017

Issue Fifteen - October to December 2017

This article was featured on page 8-9 of Babys and Beyond Issue Fifteen - October to December 2017 .

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