Your useful guide on Cybersecurity for the family
The Internet can be educational, enjoyable and fulfilling for children and the entire family.
Imagine going through a day without access to online social platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube or LinkedIn. Is that possible?
In today’s connected world, we are increasingly dependent on the web for even our simplest daily activities, like using instant messaging to wish our friends on their birthdays, watching TV and social networking.
In fact, a 2017 Ernst & Young survey found that Singaporeans spent over 12 hours on their gadgets daily, and this number has probably increased since. And it’s not just the adults – a Global DQ Report in 2018 showed that Singaporean children spent between 35 and 45 hours weekly on their digital devices.
But the online world is a double-edged sword. The many benefits come along with threats that we need to recognise and manage.
Recognise the Threats
Threat 1: Cyberbullying
Children are especially vulnerable to risks that come with early access to the internet and social media. Their innocence and trusting nature often make them the easiest targets for cyberbullying. While online bullies tend to become more daring in their tactics because they’re hiding behind a screen.
Based on the same report, 43% of children polled in Singapore mentioned that they had been victims of cyberbullying. The problem of cyberbullying is likely far more rampant than what was reported, and places on us parents a strong responsibility of protecting our children when they are online.
Threat 2: Identity Theft
Identity theft is another big issue. Children may be induced into sharing their personal information and pictures with scamsters, who may pose as a trusted friend on the Internet. Additionally, they might click on phishing emails which could result in their account being compromised and personal information accessed.
So, how can we protect our children?
Tip 1: Awareness is key
First and foremost, we need to be aware of what our children are doing online, and the potential cyber risks that they may be exposed to. To be able to help our children, we must be familiar with issues like cyberbullying and cybercrime, which are two of the pressing risks that they might face online. Cyberbullying comes in many forms, from flaming to outing to exclusion and even identity theft – these situations are especially worrying as they can impact your child emotionally as well as psychologically.
Always be on the lookout for warning signals such as behavioral changes and shifts in eating or sleeping patterns and discuss these concerns with your child.
Tip 2: Place Restrictions on Their Online Interactions
As children are growing up and exploring the world, we may place rules and restrictions on where and when they go, who they meet and what they do. Similar boundaries need to be imposed in their online interactions as well.
Having a regular conversation with your child and explaining the reasons behind certain decisions may help facilitate his or her understanding of your intent. Working towards jointly agreed limitations are more likely to be respected.
Tip 3: Educate your Child on the threats
Educate them about the threats that they may face on the internet. Teach them to be responsible internet users and always ensure that your children can approach you when they need help. Maintaining an open non-judgmental communication channel is very important as our children navigate this digital world.
Tip 4: Seek Help if Needed
There are many resources available, such as trauma counselling, I.T. support and legal advice, should your child fall victim to some untoward incident in cyberspace. Governments across the world have started taking notice of cyberbullying and related crimes. The law enforcement agencies especially in countries such as ours are extremely efficient and can be of immense help to you. Counselling programs led by specialists and tailored for cyber-related crimes can help victims recover from the associated mental trauma.
Tip 5: Get protection
Finally, while awareness can protect your family, there are insurance solutions like CyberSmart* which can help minimise the costly expense of dealing with the consequences of online threats. CyberSmart* provides coverage against cyber bullying and online identity theft. Policyowners also have access to a dedicated helpline for technical assistance, as well as a legal panel and counselling specialists.
To sum up, there are many avenues to seek advice and assistance when things get out of hand or cannot be resolved. The more you wait, the more damage it causes. Reach out to those who are trustworthy and remember that help is available, and you never really have to fear. The online world can be a great place place of fun and knowledge as long as we put adequate safeguards in place in order to enjoy it to the fullest.
* CyberSmart is underwritten by Chubb Insurance Singapore limited and distributed by DBS Bank Ltd.