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Keep your family cyber safe this upcoming summer

The approaching holiday season can pose various safety risks for families, Mark Gorrie at NortonLifeLock writes, with the kids home and on their devices often, with more time being spent unsupervised now that they are out of school.

user iconMark Gorrie
Wed, 19 Oct 2022
Keep your family cyber safe this upcoming summer
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You want your children to have access to the internet, but you also want them to be safe. How can you get the best of the internet but also safeguard from bad actors that are lurking online?

This is the challenge of living in a connected world. The bad guys may be smart, but you and your kids can be smarter. With summer around the corner, it will come with a whole list of different risks for families.

Reference these internet safety tips — or jump to the internet safety checklist — to help ensure your whole family stays safer online.

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Know the dangers of the internet

So many cyber crimes are launched to target any internet user, it’s likely that no family member will be exempt from such attacks. There are many threats children face online, as well as adults and teens.

Educating the whole family on how to identify and avoid each cyber threat is an important part of internet safety. Here are at least 10 risks or dangers of the internet to know about but be aware that new cyber threats are constantly evolving.

The 2022 Norton Cyber Safety Insights Report: Special Release – Home & Family found that two-thirds (67 per cent) of parents surveyed admit their children are active on smart devices with minimum parental guidance. In addition, 86 per cent of Australian adults surveyed believe children under 18 are at least somewhat likely to give their or their family members’ personal information away online.

With children spending so much time on screens, many feel teaching them about cyber safety is nearly as important as teaching them about other basics like healthy habits, emergency preparedness, and basic life skills. In our recent Norton study, we found about one in five parents of children under 18 who were surveyed say their child has posted to their parents’ social media account(s) (21 per cent), accessed mature or age-inappropriate content (19 per cent), made an unauthorised purchase (18 per cent), or given away personal information (18 per cent). It is imperative to educate children not to reveal any information such as their date of birth, address, and Medicare number. These are all examples of personal information and shouldn’t be disclosed freely.

We’ve recently launched a solution, Norton Identity Advisor Plus, to help in the event of identity theft. I would recommend this for anyone who fears their data may be compromised, whether through a breach or someone in the household inadvertently sharing personal details.

Norton Identity Advisor Plus not only monitors the dark web to alert you if your personal information is found, it comes with restoration support in case of identity theft and coverage for specific losses and expenses totalling $58,000.

I would also encourage you to have The Smart Talk with your kids. This free, interactive online resource helps families set healthy tech limits together and was recently updated.

Use parental controls

Consider parental controls. With Norton Family, you can view your child’s search terms and watched videos, set screen time limits, set parameters of age-appropriate content, and more. Parental controls help kids to explore the internet more safely and help create healthy tech habits that will continue to serve them as they grow up.

Keep online gaming safe

Most of these games are now online, with chat and voice features that knock down the barriers between total strangers all over the world. This can mean a lot of information and conversations that parents cannot fully control.

The first thing you can do is to check the game’s content and security features. The online versions of games increasingly come with security features like the ability to mute communications, report players that are behaving inappropriately, lock in-game purchases, and limit how long or the types of games a child can play. Even with these new features, the most important thing you can do is talk to your child regularly about the game and their interactions.

One tactic is to be present when they play a new game for the first time and check in with questions about their experience. Is someone using language you don’t understand? Has anyone asked you to chat privately? Do any of your online friends ever ask for pictures of you or your home address? These simple questions can give you all the information you need to make an informed decision on how appropriate the game is for your child.

Install a comprehensive cyber security suite

As you travel during summer, you may want to use public Wi-Fi — on your smartphone, laptop or mobile — so you can stay connected on email and social media platforms, share some updates or photos, or even access sensitive information. A virtual private network, VPN, will help you keep the information you access or download private by encrypting your activities to thwart attempts to intercept your activities on public Wi-Fi.

To help every family member as they make the most of the digital world, install a comprehensive cyber safety solution that provides protection for your data and devices, so your summer gets off to a great start. Your smartphone and tablet need as much protection as your computer and laptops.

While the internet is riddled with risks — and it’s important to be aware of them and the cyber security suites to combat them — it’s worth acknowledging there’s also a lot of good online. Virtual learning opportunities, apps that simplify everyday tasks, social media platforms that keep us in touch with loved ones — embrace it all. Just do so with these internet safety tips on top of mind to ensure your kids’ online safety, as well as that of your whole family.

Mark Gorrie is Norton managing director APAC at NortonLifeLock.

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