There are two big things that parents can do to help their children be secure in the social network: 1) train your children to be savvy about the manipulative and nefarious snares, and make safe choices, and 2) pay attention to the your browser settings.
Training your child to be net savvy
Gina Swankie is the Public Affairs Specialist for the Sacramento Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.She encourages folks to check out a very comprehensive free training program produced by the FBI called “Safe Online Surfing” or SOS, for classroom teachers, but also accessible to parents. SOS trains children to become incredibly savvy about the nefarious influences and pitfalls of the social network including cyberbullying, predators, malware and scammers, and intellectual property.
The SOS instruction is self-directed and encourages students to think about the nature of the decisions and choices that will be presented to them via the web, and then gives them an exam to see how much they have really learned. For example, in the fourth grade level, they will be presented with an offer, such as “Enter your name and phone number to win great prizes,” or “I know something about you,” which is engaging or compelling. The student then clicks on the icon for the laser glasses which reveal the true motive of the offer: “I want your personal information to scam you, not to give you a prize,” or “I am building trust to learn your secrets. If someone makes you feel uncomfortable you should always tell a parent or guardian.”
“Parents should check out this website and go through the training materials,” Swankie said. “In that way they can see what the kids are learning and be on the same page.” For educators who want to learn more or have questions about the program you may contact Swankie directly at: Gina.Swankie@ic.fbi.gov.
Securing the browser
In addition to preparing yourself and your child to be net savvy user of Internet powered apps, your browser is the single most important application and your first line of defense to minimize the amount of personal information left for others to exploit you and your child.
This morning I spoke with Michael Coates, Director of Security Assurance for Mozilla, a non-profit open source web software development organization, about the main security parameters parents would need to know. “First you want to be able to tell a website you don’t want to be tracked on line and prevent it,” Coates said, referring to Mozilla’s aggressive initiative featured on its Firefox browser called “Do Not Track.” Since tracking is the way advertisers learn about the interests and on-line behavior of individuals to customize commercials, this one feature that will help shield your child from commercial exploitation. And then Coates indicated that the next most important security measure is to check for software updates and patches to plug weaknesses that malicious sites access.
According to Coates, additional safety measures include parental controls, and a rating system that indicates the level of trustworthiness for websites are also available for the Firefox browser.
- Banana Moments: Help for Parenting in the Network Culture
- Safe Online Surfing (SOS)
- Mozilla/Firefox “Do Not Track”
- CyberParenting Topics on The Fish 103.9FM
- Follow Joanna @CyberParenting
- Like Banana Moments
- Sign up to receive Banana Moments quarterly and monthly updates