We may not always be happy about it, but summer holidays normally mean children get to spend a lot more time on electronic devices. In fact, if we're honest, we are often only too happy to enjoy the peace and quiet that normally ensues.
It may surprise you however to know just how much time could be being spent in front of hi-res screens. According to a recent study children’s average online activity increases to eight hours a day during the summer break.
The study, commissioned by McAfee, claims that one in five parents (18%) never monitor what their children are doing online and 86% of parents allow their children to play online games recommended for older children.
This carries a level of risk with children not versed in what to look out for and avoid doing online.
For online safety, especially for young children between the ages of four and 12, Allen Scott, Consumer EMEA Director at McAfee believes, as in most things, the key is starting the conversation early.
“If you start talking about online safety early, it will make your job that much easier when your children get older. It should be something that starts as soon as children have a device to play with. If your kids are young, start with simple rules like: 'don’t open emails or messages from people you don’t know' and 'decline friend requests from strangers.' You want online safety to be part of normal behaviour..."
Setting a good example is also important by minimising your use of devices around the home.
If you want to beef up security and protection of the devices your children use, McAfee partner, I-LIFE Digital Technology, has provided this 10 ‘must-do’ cyber safety tips:
1. Explain and discuss how hackers steal and misuse data using infected links and phishing emails and what they can do with the data. Share stories with your children about fake social profiles, and outline the consequences of connecting with strangers, even if it is a person of their own age.
2. Keep location services off when not needed.
3. Routinely scrolling, liking, and commenting on social sites such as Snapchat and Instagram can give kids a false sense of security and power. Remind tweens and teens to share responsibly. Oversharing can damage a reputation and words or images shared callously can damage other people.
4. Cybercriminals can use the popularity of video games to entice gamers to click on potentially malicious links. Remind them not to open email attachments or video/ message links. Try to limit or have anonymous profiles when playing online.
5. Be suspicious of emails that have their name wrong or have spelling errors like ‘www.yhoo.com.’ Do not click on websites if they don’t start with ‘https’.
6. Use 2-factor authentication to make their account security stronger and change passwords regularly.
7. Repeat often the cybersafety mantra- STOP.THINK. SHARE. Ask them if they have faced social media issues like cyber bullying, fake news, cyberstalking and converse how these need to be tackled.
8. Unplug and control how much time they spend on their device. Establish tech-free family activities.
9. Always protect and upgrade the software security.
10. No matter what anyone in the family is doing online, it’s best to use a security product that can help keep connected devices safe from malware. Just like any PC application, be sure to keep security software updated with the latest software version.