2023 National Cyber security awareness month looks at children

National Cybersecurity Awareness Month 2023 – Cybersecurity for Children

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Cybersecurity For Kids
Cybersecurity For Kids

Raising a child in the twenty-first century entails raising a digital native; they are continuously connected to the Internet via smartphones, laptops, and other electronic devices. The internet accompanies children wherever they go, making cybersecurity for children an increasingly crucial issue to address.

Many children and young adults are continuously connected to the internet, but more than 40 percent of them have or will disclose sensitive and personal information online, according to research. This is dangerous, but children who lack knowledge of cybersecurity or who lack premium online security are more likely to unwittingly place themselves in danger. This piece is intended to demystify cybersecurity for children and facilitate discussions about cybersecurity.

The Internet accompanies children wherever they go, making cybersecurity for children an increasingly crucial issue to address.

Steps to Demystify Cybersecurity to Children

1. Obtain Your Education First

Before you can begin teaching cybersecurity to kids, you need to grasp the concept first. There are numerous risks associated with online browsing, but it is difficult to explain and enforce internet safety for children when you lack complete information.

There are three categories of online threats that children may encounter:

a) Strangers and Predators: Predators frequently engage in catfishing with children on social media and online gaming sites. Typically, they will trick minors into divulging login credentials, payment information, and other sensitive data.
Catfishing is a deceptive activity in which a person creates a fictional persona or fake identity on a social networking service, usually targeting a specific victim.
b) Peers and Mates: As communication and entertainment migrate online, so do harassment and abuse, according to peers. Peers or mates, both known and unknown, may engage in cyberbullying against children.
c) Self or Loners: Children who are unsupervised online may inadvertently obtain malicious content or access harmful links. It is also possible for them to disclose private information on a public platform by accident.
Being aware of these hazards can help you protect children while they browse the Internet. Educating yourself also enables parents and guardians to set a safe example for internet use, which is a fantastic method to teach children about cybersecurity. Specifically, be careful to:
▪ Keep your information private and be selective about what you post online.
▪ Create robust, complex passwords.
▪ Configure privacy settings on social media platforms.
▪ Follow the same or similar Internet guidelines as you will advise your children.

Following these tips — and continuously learning about cybersecurity — is the first step to keeping you and your family secure online.

2. Document and Communicate Internet Expectations

It is essential to establish and maintain internet expectations before going online. These expectations will govern household internet use, and they can be used to explain the dangers of surfing the web.

Your web expectations should include the following:

▪ Secure passwords for online accounts
▪ Expectations and protections for passwords
▪ Norms for distinctive identities
▪ Establish regulations regarding the sharing of personal information online.
▪ Internet and display time restrictions
▪ App authorizations
▪ App installation directions and authorizations
▪ Online and in-app transactions

You should strive to create restrictions that are both flexible and protective when establishing internet expectations. As children grow older, it becomes permissible to include them in discussions about their online expectations.

Create and sign a family media agreement after establishing and consenting to internet expectations. These agreements will hold everyone accountable for their online behaviour, thereby promoting Internet safety.

3. Be Proactive, Use Empowerment-Based Approach

The online world can be hazardous, but it needs not be frightening for children or adults. Scaring children away from the Internet is not an effective safety measure. Instead, teach children how to protect themselves online through empowerment.

They will likely appreciate the respect you show them and take their responsibility seriously if you give them responsibility for their own online safety. Additionally, do not presume that a child’s knowledge of cybersecurity. Instead, inquire about their comprehension and assist them in filling in the gaps.

This type of proactive approach can aid in establishing a child’s trust in an adult. It requires more than a one-way conversation to educate children about cybersecurity; both parties must be aware of the risks and take responsibility for their own safety.

4. Establish a Secure Environment

Even with an empowerment-based approach, it is possible that a child will make an error or violate an internet rule. You want to be the person a child feels secure reaching out to in this situation.

Periodically monitor your child’s online behaviour and keep your family media agreements handy, but be willing to discuss altering expectations as your child ages. In addition, remind them of the risks associated with online activities and assure them that you will be there for them if a difficult situation arises.

5. Invest in Cybersecurity Tools

Teaching children about cybersecurity is essential, but you should also set up protective systems or invest in cybersecurity tools to add an extra layer of protection to your online browsing. Consider security measures such as:

▪ Antivirus software, which can detect and prevent malicious software from damaging a system.
▪ VPNs, which protect users as they browse the Internet or connect to public networks.
▪ Password managers can aid in protecting credentials across multiple platforms.
▪ Content blockers that determine which applications or websites a user can access.

6. Teach Cybersecurity Vocabulary

When imparting cybersecurity knowledge to children, they must be familiar with the terminology. Although children may not immediately comprehend how all these terms work together, it is essential to discuss them.

To start, teach cybersecurity terms like:

Cybercrime: Online illegal activities usually concerning a computer or network
Digital footprint: Data left behind from online activities that can be tracked, monitored and stored
Encryption: Code system used to protect information while traveling across a network or system
Firewall: A system designed to prevent unauthorized system access
Hacker: An individual who breaks into a computer’s network
Internet: A worldwide system of computer networks
Internet of Things (IOT): Collection of items that can connect to the internet and be assigned an IP address
Internet Service Provider (ISP): A company that provides Internet service
IP address: An identification number that’s assigned to each electronic device
Malware: A type of dangerous software that is harmful to electronic devices
Modem: A device that provides access to the Internet
Router: A networking device — in the form of a small box — that connects all electronic devices in one place and allows them to join the same network
Virus: A type of malware that can damage and destroy network systems

Review your terms regularly, and add new words, too. This way they’ll be prepared to communicate with you if they end up in a scary situation online.

7. Choose Age-Appropriate Resources

Cybersecurity can be a complicated topic. Children need access to age-appropriate resources to best understand cybersecurity for kids. Consider downloading or purchasing educational apps, or using specific printable and online resources to educate kids about cybersecurity.

This article was written based on Panda Security’sCybersecurity for Kids

Author: Emmanuel K. Gadasu

(CEH, CDPS, CIPM, BSc IT, MSc IT and Law*, LLB – (Data Protection Officer, IIPGH and Data Privacy Consultant and Practitioner, Information Governance Solutions)

For comments, contact author via  ekgadasu@gmail.com  or Mobile: +233-243913077

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