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Parents need to know how to keep their children safe online during the holidays.

With the summer holiday period fast approaching, children in Australia will likely be spending more time online.

Ronald Yii, technical operations director, F-Secure, said, “The more time a child spends on the internet, the greater the chances the child will come across some type of online threat. It could be something as simple and relatively benign as a website harvesting personal information or a low-grade malware. It could also be a serious threat such as a digital conversation in a chat room with a stranger grooming the child or an attack by a malicious application designed to prevent further access to personal documents, including photos unless payment is made to a third party”.

While it is not realistic these days to simply ban a child from using connected devices, there are five key things families need to remember to reduce the risks of online threats over the summer holidays:

1. Set limits
As a start, setting limits is an effective way to make sure children don’t spend too much time on their digital devices during the holidays. Limiting which sites children are allowed to visit, and what sort of information can or can’t be shared online, can also help protect children.

2. Act as you would in the real world
Online behaviour is often very different to how a child would behave in real life. To avoid problems arising from bad behaviour online it is important to remind children that how they act in person shouldn’t be any different when online. This will help avoid issues arising from everything from cyberbullying to strangers online.

3. Be wary at all times
On the internet, anyone can pretend to be someone else. Most children, especially gamers, will employ some form of online identity to say and do things without anybody knowing their true identities. This may be relatively innocent, but there are others online that have an ulterior motive. Being wary at all times will help children spot suspicious activity online and learn to avoid it.

4. Discuss appropriate web activity
Even when children are at home, it’s almost impossible for parents to track their activities online. Children having increasing access to a large number of internet-enabled mobile devices makes tracking even more difficult. It’s important that parents build on what is learnt at school about appropriate and safe online behaviour, with regular open discussions with their children at home.

5. Make it okay to tell a parent
It’s vital to make sure that children feel comfortable talking with a parent about what they’ve been doing, and would like to do on the internet. This way, parents can carefully guide and advise children, and keep them safe online.

Share your thoughts below.

  • I would make the effort to only let one child at a time have access to their IT gadgets.
    Supervise what they watch and comments that are received/sent. If you consider it necessary confiscate and lock up the gadgets. Maybe I am touch, but it is best to ensure they are safe. Check them with your child when their gadget is returned.

    Reply

  • It still stuns me that parents allow their teenage daughters (some as young as 13) to post photos of themselves in bikinis on their Facebook pages. Not only should they not have a Facebook page at this age, but the provocative poses are on public settings allowing anyone to view these photos. It seems to me the girls are too young to realise the danger they are putting themselves in, and the parents are not keeping an eye on them.

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  • number 2 is a great tip. i believe in supervision but you do have to trust and educate your kids to be wary of these things online. these are great tips though.

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  • Lke hf

    Reply

  • Thanks for the interesting and timely article and let’s hope kids spend more time outside and getting out and about instead of on technology. Holidays is the time to shake off the classroom and indoors and get back to nature too.

    Reply

  • I have a 17 year old son who has intellectual disability and he’s obsessed with his mobile phone he will literally stay on it for 8 hours at a time you could upset if I put restrictions on his phone if I put time limits on him he goes on Facebook particularly and that’s random people and sometimes I meet up with other teenagers his own age or older we have tried to explain this many times to him a very dangerous it could possibly be but this has not deterred him at all anyone have any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Reply

  • We should always discuss with our kids what is appropriate or not. The digital world can be very dangerous and the kids need to be aware of that.
    Thanks for all the advice you gave!

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  • Great tips. I have my child’s password and I often go online and keep an eye on what’s been posted.

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  • Kids are so tech savvy these days so I’m always extra careful when mine are on line.

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  • Great tips. We only let ours use digital devices in shared areas around the house and encourage open discussions around sites used.

    Reply

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