Keeping your existence safe from the internet, in general, is becoming harder by the day. Cyber hygiene for parents only makes an additional hurdle as you don’t only need to take care of your own identity, devices, and behavior, but that of your kids as well.
As we know, those very young don’t often do as they are told.
Regretfully, there isn’t an easy solution for this. High-quality software like the encrypted apps and servers provided by Le VPN can get you halfway there, but the rest is on you. Teaching online behavior is as long and as important as teaching kids behavior in general.
Thankfully, some broad points have proven to work and can be used by parents of both toddlers and teenagers:
- Use professional software
- Invest time in education
- Lead by example
And the last one is probably the most important aspect of cyber hygiene for parents. You can’t expect your child to see over-exposure online as a bad thing that can affect them emotionally and socially if their parents are doing it all the time.
In many ways, parenting about online issues is just an extension of regular parenting. Same how our forefathers were thought to avoid predators in the wild, so do we teach our young to avoid the digital kind.
Don’t Substitute Parenting with Devices
There is a frightening number of parents who are willing to allow smartphones, tablets, or TV to raise their kids. This doesn’t only reduce your child’s chances for better education and emotional growth but can expose it to various dangers.
There’s no such thing as a secure social media platform, and even if we can follow guidelines that will keep us safe on YouTube, Twitter, or TikTok, we can’t guarantee that our children will do the same.
Dedicate a minimum of a couple of hours each day to spend with your child, per parent. This will ensure that the kid gets more information about the world from you than it does from the internet. In this era of communication, the fact that they are not spending time with strangers doesn’t mean that they are not communicating with them.
Issue of Self-Actualization
Having confirmation of your worth and identity from others is one of the highest needs of humans. And, while it may not sound as pressing as hunger or warmth, if everything else is fulfilled, we do need it.
But, social media has allowed very young children to be exposed by pursuing this need online and from strangers. Often, they do so because they see their friends, older children, and even parents posting pictures and videos online for likes and shares.
To avoid your kids becoming enthralled by the little sound of someone liking their pictures, you need to work on actualization directly. Make sure that your child has friends, that you talk with them frequently, and that they know that they can express themselves calmly if they need something.
Honest Discussions and Education
One of the biggest issues with proper behavioral education with children is that we as adults tend to underestimate their intelligence and capability for learning and understanding. While our kid’s information pool, wisdom, experience, and emotional state are in their infant stages, they are as intelligent as an adult.
It is best to speak to them as you would someone that is your equal in age but doesn’t have the information that you wish to convey. This little extra dose of respect will make your child immune when talking with strangers because they wouldn’t be able to entice them with the ”wondrous world of adulthood”.
Additionally, include online behavior, including browsing and chatting with friends, in these discussions. It is best for them to learn from example, and if they see your posts on social media and chats, they will know how to act when they are in the same situation themselves.
Your kids should know why and how to use a VPN, anti-virus, and other tools that they would need in the future to stay safe online.
Exchange Surveillance with Communication
For the first couple of years, usually, until your kid reaches 12 or 13, you will need to use some surveillance and parental controls over them. This is the only way you’ll know exactly what you need to teach them and if they are in any danger.
But, once they become teenagers, it is better to forgo surveillance and focus on communication. Primarily, you don’t really want to see what they are talking about with their friends. Rather, you want them to tell you about what is going on online and what stupid trends people are up to.
Invest in Security
It is possible to have cyber hygiene for parents without any tools at your disposal, but that would only come with serious restrictions that might (and usually do) backfire. It is much easier to use tools.
For instance, if you have a home WiFi VPN, you can be certain that your kids, and yourself, won’t be tracked and monitored. For parents, this is exceptionally important as it is easy for marketing companies to recognize a child’s behavior and pump its feed full of ads for games that are tailored to push on kids.
Paying a few dollars every month to have good protection will pay dividends in the future and give you more time to be parents and not a cybersecurity expert. With companies like Le VPN, you can protect both your and your children’s devices and focus more on the content rather than devices.
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