Being a parent is amazing and…hard. And in 2020 we’ve all been served up unusual circumstances that haven’t made parenting any easier. With more children hitting the books online, the challenges of online security are likely on every parent’s mental checklist of things to worry about. What follows are five tips to help you meet those challenges and make the most of online technology safely and securely.

Establish a culture of trust and set expectations

Parents often get caught up in blocking inappropriate content and which mobile apps are safe or not. Yet, establishing a culture of trust in the home is equally as important. Set expectations so they are clear on what is acceptable behavior online. Ask yourself these questions:

  • When can they be online and for how long?
  • Are they allowed to use technology in their room or a more visible space?
  • What access do you expect to browser history, text messages or general technology usage?
  • What can have access to online?
  • What information can they share online?

Most importantly, create a safe space where honesty won’t be punished. Make sure that if your kids get into trouble on social media, lose control of an account, or download malware while trying to watch the latest movie, they feel comfortable speaking up before it’s too late.

Explain the risks

Kids need to be taught that their behavior online has consequences. Just like in the real world, it’s important to teach children to treat people with respect and kindness, and to be wary of strangers. Help them understand that all content they share – photos, opinions, personal details – is permanent and public. Even if they share something confidentially with a friend, it could be distributed more broadly. Another consideration is to make sure they understand what phishing emails are and to check with you before clicking on links, documents and to never share personal information with anyone unless you give them the go-ahead.

Use parental controls and other security technologies

Most apps and devices have parental control features to help monitor and protect kids. Typically, these tools provide the ability to enforce usage limits, monitor internet activity, manages contacts and messaging apps, and more. Make note that these only work well with devices within your control. School issued devices, gaming consoles or devices used at a friend’s house are not in your control, which is why communication and setting expectations with your kids is a key element to keeping them safe.

Set up separate user accounts

Creating different user accounts allows you to control who gets access to what in shared devices via parental controls. This separation allows you to prevent young people from accessing files, games or accounts reserved for mature adults, and allows you to provide access to household members based on age and maturity level.

Keeping your family safe from cyber threats and pitfalls may seem overwhelming, but taking these simple steps can provide the tools you need to be successful.