Education / Article

Do you know what your kids are doing online? Some red flags to look out for…

Today, kids live in two interconnected worlds – the online and the offline. We at ESET are parents too, so we know how tricky this can make bringing up children. It’s always been difficult to keep track of what a teenager is up to – and it’s no easier now, when they don’t want their folks snooping into their social networks or chat sessions. So how can you make sure that your kids stay out of trouble?

America’s FBI advises parents to watch out for changes in the behavior of their children. What do they mean? One example is frequent night-time browsing, which can be a sign that children are visiting inappropriate websites or chatrooms, where they risk coming into contact with online predators.

Use of an online account or profile that doesn’t belong to your child is another reason to have a talk, as offenders may offer potential victims an account that allows them to communicate directly, unsupervised.

Suspicious emails, mail, packages or deliveries from unknown individuals are another red flag worth looking out for. This is especially true if your child tries to hide the contents from you.

Does your kid quickly turn off their monitor or switch screens when you walk in the room? Again, this is a signal that something fishy could be going on.

In the worst cases, kids may grow more distant from family life. The FBI points out that online predators work very hard to drive a wedge between a child and their family, and will try to exploit relationships to gain more influence.

Have you noticed some of these red flags? Here’s what you can do…

First of all, sit down with your daughter or son and discuss the potential risks that lurk in cyberspace. Talk to him or her openly, and be honest if you have any suspicions, advices the FBI. Educate them too on the malicious actors that are out there, so that they know how to avoid harm.

Authorities also encourage parents to spend some time with them online and let them show you their favorite web destinations.

Agree on having access to their email or other accounts for emergency situations, but be up front about the reasons why you want to maintain it. Advise your children to use age-appropriate social networks.

In the past, a good rule of thumb was to keep the computer your children use in a common room of the house. However, today’s smartphones or other mobile devices are almost as powerful as computers, making it almost impossible to impose the same spatial restrictions.

If you want to have more control over what your child does online, consider using a parental tool such as ESET Parental Control for Android. It allows you to limit the time your child spends playing games or browsing, but at the same time opens up a channel for dialogue about what web content is appropriate and what is inappropriate.

Through the application, your kids can also have their say on what is okay, by requesting permission to access websites that have previously been blocked, or seek extra time to play games or surf the web.

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