17 Cyber Safety Experts Share Tips for Keeping Children Safe Online

cyber security

This is a post from our friend's over at SafeSoundFamily. They interviewed 17 Internet and mobile safety experts about how to keep children safe online, and Tim was one of them! Read the full post for some great information from the leading experts in digital safety.

For parents in the digital age, one of the most ever-present concerns is Internet safety. How can you keep your children and teens safe online? Today, this means protecting their identities, keeping them safe from predators, and helping them avoid mistakes that will follow them into the future. There are so many schools of thought – will you install safety software, have regular conversations, or limit online time? Which method is right for you and your family?

To help you evaluate your choices, we’ve rounded up some of the world’s foremost experts on Internet and cyber security. We asked them one simple question:

“What’s your most important tip for parents to keep their children safe online?”

We’ve collected and compiled their expert advice into this comprehensive resource guide for parents and children about internet safety. We hope it will help you make decisions and keep your kids safe online.

Frank Gallagher

Frank Gallagher is the Executive Director of Cable in the Classroom (CIC). He specializes in Internet safety, information literacy, media education, and the impact that media can have on children. He is responsible for monitoring the relationship between schools and the cable industry, and for writing materials for education and the cable industry.

The most important tip I can share with parents about keeping kids safe online is…

Kids make mistakes. But multiple studies have shown that children often won’t go to parents and caregivers when something bad happens online. That’s because they think mom or dad won’t understand, will take away their phone or computer, or will intervene but only make things worse. It’s hard to keep kids safe when they’re not letting you into their digital life.

So, the most important thing a parent can do to help keep their children safe online is to have an ongoing conversation with them about technology. Have children teach you how to do something. Ask them what’s the coolest thing about the latest app. Play an online game with them (and be graceful when you lose). Let them show you the cool trick they just learned. Have them help you with a task that requires Internet use. Show that you are interested in the technology and how they use it. Show that you understand the important role technology and the Internet play in their lives.

In these ongoing conversations, there will be plenty of opportunities for you to comment, teach, and reinforce your family’s values and behavioral expectations, to help your children learn to be more thoughtful and responsible technology users.

Aaron Harder

Aaron Harder started Entropy Multimedia, Inc in 2001. Entropy has developed a number of web-based educational tools over the years, including LearningLab.org. Built in partnership with the Virginia Department of Education and Paws Inc., LearningLab.org offers educational videos for children on a wide variety of topics presented by characters from the popular comic strip Garfield.

My most important cyber safety tip for kids is…

Our team agrees that the single most important tip is low-tech: talk with your children. Talk about the websites they go to, about how to avoid ads/enticements, about how to be polite to others when communicating online, about how to respond to personal questions from others, and generally all those things adults know about human relationships that kids don’t know yet.

Kids may be smarter about how to use technology, but adults are much more savvy about how to handle relationships. Develop a relationship of trust with the kids through open communication so that they will come to you when they encounter a problem, without worrying that you’ll ban them from their technology. This is also the basic message we offer kids in our Internet Safety episode—tell an adult you trust about anything troubling.

David Harley

David Harley BA CITP FBCS CISSP is an author/editor, IT security researcher, and consultant known for his research into malware, Mac security, anti-malware product testing and email abuse, about which he’s written more books, papers and articles than anyone could reasonably be expected to read. He is a Senior Research Fellow with the security company ESET and We Live Security.

The most important internet safety tip I can share with parents is…

In ‘Howards End’, Margaret Schlegel quotes her father as saying ‘It’s better to be fooled than to be suspicious’ and explains that ‘the confidence trick is the work of man, but the want-of-confidence trick is the work of the devil.’

Forster was capable of considerable foresight: ‘The Machine Stops’ – written in 1909 – suggests that he would have been no more surprised at modern communications and information-sharing technologies – the Internet, if you like – than H.G. Wells. But if he had experienced the real, present-day Internet and social media, I think his heroine’s thoughts might have been a little more pragmatic. Trust in the fundamental goodness of the human spirit is a fine principle, but scepticism is a better survival characteristic in a hostile environment. And make no mistake, the Internet’s potential for anonymity and pseudonymity make it an environment where much more than money may be at risk.

Should you therefore teach your children paranoia? Of course not: there are already too many people terrified to use computers and/or the internet because they don’t know who or what to trust.

What I’m suggesting is much more difficult: to teach them to trust their own judgement rather than rely entirely on technical solutions and conflicting ‘official’ information resources. That sounds simple enough, but you also have to help direct them towards strategies for developing sound analysis and judgement, what educationalists call critical thinking. But it’s too critical a task to leave to educationalists: helping your children to help them themselves starts way before nursery school. The Wild West analogue that is the Internet is in many respects as lawless as any frontier settlement, but its outlaws enjoy the possibility of anonymity and pseudonymity that the blackhats of the Old West could never have dreamed of.

While I don’t advocate giving babes in arms immediate and unrestricted access to the cyberfrontier, it’s worth trying to give children a gentle, guided introduction: encourage them to try things, ask questions, and engage in constructive dialog: “It says here that…. do you think that’s really true?”

And there, of course, is the catch. Think of yourself as an educationalist, and like any competent teacher, make sure you’re learning enough yourself to earn your child’s trust as a teacher. It’s not about being the font of all knowledge: they will learn much more if, when you run into a problem, you tackle it together. Even now, many parents are still content to assume that their children are – even at an early age – more competent with computers and software than they are themselves. Even if this is sometimes true, as an adult you are much better equipped to apply your coping experience of the less salubrious aspects of life in general to online life. Don’t confuse technical grasp with coping.

Jayne A. Hitchcock

Jayne A. Hitchcock is a noted cyber crime and cyber bullying expert who trains law enforcement about cyber issues and speaks to students about staying safer online. She is president of two all-volunteer organizations,Working to Halt Online Abuse and WHO@-KTD (Kids/Teen Division at haltabusektd.org), and is on the faculty of the University of Maryland University College and lives in southern Maine with her husband and Siberian Husky, Phoebe The Cyber Crime Dog (yes, really).

The most important tip I can share about online safety for kids is…

I tell parents to listen to their children and not freak out if their child tells them someone is bothering them online, making them feel uncomfortable or that they clicked on a link that led them to a porno site. Kids and teens are usually afraid they will be punished if they do go to their parents. So keep an open mind, listen and try to resolve the situation – it’s not your child’s fault. Help them! You can also get more tips from my organization’s web site for kids, teens and their parents at haltabusektd.org.

Tim Woda

Tim Woda is an Internet and Mobile Safety Expert and Senior VP of Strategic Growth for uKnow.com. uKnow.com is the creator of Parental Intelligence Systems that help keep children safe online and make digital parenting easier for mom and dad. Tim’s ongoing mission is to educate parents about the latest digital dangers and trends to make sure that the Internet remains a safe place for children. Tim attended the University of Maryland, College Park but left before receiving a degree to become a serial entrepreneur. He currently lives in Bowie, MD.

The most important tip I can share with parents about keeping children safe online is…

Parents need to participate in their children’s digital world. Rules are not enough. Parental control software is not enough. We need to teach our kids how to use and enjoy technology responsibly and that is best achieved by engaging early and often.

Parents need to play games and interact online with their children. I go into schools all the time and ask, “How many of you have ridden bikes with your kids? How many of you have played dollhouse with your kids?” Parents’ hands go up. “How many of you have played Minecraft? How many of you have played a game online with your children?” Arms never go up. Moms and dads need to appreciate that the toys of childhood have changed, and if they want to engage it might include sitting around playing Minecraft together. It may not be Monopoly.

For the full blog post, click here.

We are pleased to announce that Bark will be taking over where we leave off. The uKnowKids mission to protect digital kids will live on with Bark. Our team will be working closely with Bark’s team in the future, so that we can continue making the digital world a safer, better place for kids and their families. While we are disappointed we could not complete this mission independently, we are also pleased to hand the uKnowKids baton to Bark.
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