Dear Parents, would you let your children touch a hot stove top, drive your cars, or walk down the street with strangers? In all likelihood, no!
Although you are worried about your children, only 50% of parents talk to their charges about the various dangers that the Internet offers. When you consider that, according to the German Federal Office for Security, three quarters of 3- to 15-year-olds are regularly online and only one in two children is educated, my stomach turns.
Why is that? Don’t you have the confidence? Don’t you have the time? Or do you just not care? Everyone must answer this question for themselves. I cannot and will not take this answer from you. However, my goal is to support you as much as possible in this task. But, what are they doing all the time on their cell phones and laptops?
That depends very much on the age. However, you can say that it is mainly the use of social media and messengers such as Instagram, Whatsapp, Snapchat, Facebook, TikTok. Likewise, they play various online and offline games, listen to and watch a wide variety of content on streaming providers like Netflix and Spotify, and do research for homework and school projects.
So what’s the problem now? We’re doing the same thing?
You may probably be right about that, but you have to remember that you are adults with X years more life experience. As an adult, normal common sense looks different from that of children and teenagers.
Here are a few negative examples:
11-year-old Tim gets a video sent to him via Whatsapp from his 16-year-old brother showing a motorcycle accident in which a man loses his head. Tim doesn’t feel particularly good watching the video, but sends it to the group chat of the 18-member class anyway.
I’m not a specialist in child psychology, but I think this is difficult for an adult person to process as well. The very curious Julia has just turned 12 and heard the word “lesbian porn” at her birthday party, doesn’t know what it is and is now googling it.
What do you think Julia will find? Does a 12-year-old really need to be misinformed about porn sites? Timo loves creating videos with Musical.ly and getting compliments from his friends and followers for it. He is now thinking about how he can get even more compliments and is filming his next video on a lark wearing his sister’s summer dress and red lipstick.
We all know that children are often very merciless when another child steps out of line. Now such a video is perfect for bullying. Martina loves to play Clash of Clans online on her phone and is desperate to get first place in the standings. Unfortunately for her, the user Warrior45 is always a few points ahead. One day, she notices that her mother’s credit card is still stored in her profile. She now uses the situation to buy gold, gems and much more worth 300 euros in the game.
Conclusion: Martina is now in 1st place and the mother gets a 300 euro credit card bill at the end of the month. Ralf has a public Instagram profile with just under 1500 followers. One day, he is invited by a girl to eat ice cream in a remote area via the private message function. What Ralf doesn’t know, the girl is actually a 43-year-old man with sick fantasies. For me personally an absolutely bad thought. Unfortunately, this happens more often than you think.
What can we do?
For me the question is rather: What SHOULD we do? In my opinion, education is the most important thing. Talk to your children!
The most important topics:
- Make it clear to the children that they should not disclose personal data such as address, phone number on the Internet.
Everything that is once on the Internet, usually stays there. The children should ask themselves some questions:
- Maybe I am not making myself very popular with some people, but depending on the age and also the personality of the child, I would make a rule that no media should be uploaded to the internet without the permission of mom and dad.
- Children need to be aware that not all people they meet on the Internet have good intentions. Your relationship should be good enough that your offspring will tell you if he/she meets someone from a game or anywhere else on the Internet in real life.
- Try to explain to the best of your ability what you think is good and bad. Porn, violence, extremism and much more is not for children.
- From a technical point of view, children should be taught to be cautious. They should know not to open suspicious/unknown attachments in emails and not to download movies/music from dubious websites.
Are there programs that can help us and protect our children?
The answer is yes, programs are a great tool, but nothing beats clear education. The biggest security problem is usually in front of the computer. One of the best monitoring app out there is qustodio, read a detailed review at https://www.alertdino.com/monitoring-app/qustodio/.
The security company Kaspersky Lab has developed a DSGVO compliant software that makes it easier to protect children. Kaspersky Safe Kids Premium: Helps you control how long your kids use mobile devices and ensure their safety in the process – so they can only access the types of websites, content and apps you think are appropriate. You’ll also get professional advice – from psychologists – that will make it easier to explain safety issues to your kids in a way they can understand.
My second product recommendation would be Kaspersky Total Security. Kaspersky Safe Kids, https://usa.kaspersky.com/safe-kids is already integrated here: With all the different apps, devices, and websites, your family needs extensive protection from hackers, attackers, and ransomware. We help you protect your family on all devices – so they can surf, store, stream, and use social networks even more securely. Protects privacy, passwords, files and photos Increases security for online banking and shopping Protects your kids – online and beyond.
You can find a configuration guide with my suggested settings here. Finally, I would like to urge you once again to take this topic really seriously. Your children depend on your protection.