I haven’t noticed as much coverage on cyber safety as it relates to children recently, but it may be that I don’t pay as much attention since my last child launched last year. I did notice a report from Legal & General’s home insurance team that they just published: Digital Criminal 2012: CyberSafety Report. Their findings are that 88% of consumers polled want more security advice to be given to children using social network sites. Will that work?
They naturally give online safety tips that ultimately not only protect the children, but also the home based on what the children might say online—tipping criminals off regarding vacations, location of valuables, a recent purchase, etc.
Mark Johnson of The Risk Management Group helped with the report and also produced a guide for children and teachers emphasizing the need for online security, and how to achieve it. Click here to download the guide.
While I know that every attempt must be made to get this word across to children, I’ve had my own experiences with how very difficult that can be. My youngest daughter a few years ago decided to communicate with someone in a chat room. He lived in Florida, so he said, and was 16. She gave him our phone number, the name of her school, her name, and the name of our community (small). Of course, I just knew that he wasn’t 16. Instead I pictured a belching 67-year old letch, with a scraggly beard and torn undershirt, talking to my little girl. You know, the worst of the ones caught on MSNBC’s series on catching predators that prey on teens.Where was Chris Hansen when I needed him?
The fact that I could ground her, limit her computer use, put on ever more controls, etc. might have made me feel better. I knew, however, that if she wanted to continue their discussion, I couldn’t prevent it. Even typing this brings back the fear.
Since children are now growing up immersed in technology, in some ways it will be easier to instill safety patterns early on—at least I hope so. I agree that education on safety is critical—and I am by no means implying that it shouldn’t take place. There does come that age though, from around 13 to 17 where the thing that ultimately protects them the most is the relationship they have to their parents.