How to Bridge That Digital Divide the McAfee Way

You just cannot expect your preteens or teens to tell you about everything they see, face or read online. They have a strong need for privacy, they are most uncomfortable talking about inappropriate content with parents and they are loath to admit that they are not exactly the model children their parents believe them to be. And they would die rather than confess to their parents that they were at the receiving end of ridicule or bullying. It would be so embarrassing for them, for then their last shred of esteem would be lost!

Kids in their vulnerable, moody teens instead find it easier to talk to their friends who they believe would understand and empathize with them and give them the right advice. That’s why they are so addicted to social networking, where even the shyest child can speak freely. Unfortunately, parents often fail to comprehend this and hence arises a digital gap between the parents and child. Further, parents also fail to understand the magnetism that the latest gadgets, apps, networks and games that they so keenly fee.

So actually we operate at different levels, ours was a world where physical activities and face-to-face interactions were encouraged while our kids prefer their digital world and online communications.

If you are a parent of a preteen, then chances are you have already started worrying about how you would handle your kids in their teens. How you would monitor them, their friendships and activities, given the new menace in town- the Internet? Already they seem to know much more than you do.

The trick is to start them young and maintain an upper hand.       

You need to set rules for their forays into the virtual world. Tell them what’s right and what isn’t right; what’s allowed and what isn’t. I would tell my kids that they could play on my computer but not turn on the modem (those were the days of wired connections) when we were not around. If they did, then no video games for a week. They listened.

You also need to make them aware of the dangers that lurk in the cyber world. Talk to them about cyber bullies, stalkers, crooks and kidnappers. Tell them about account hacking, bank frauds and malicious apps on phones. Warn them about paedophiles- how easy it is to assume false personalities online and why they should not befriend people they do not know in real life. Chances are, they already know about these threats and have some stories to share. It’s great to share stories and come to an agreement about safe surfing. It will also send the message to your kids that you are aware of what’s happening and might make it easy for them to speak to you.

Another thing to do is to install comprehensive security software on all devices, including all the smartphones! The next step is to set controls and adjust privacy settings on them. Remember to turn off Bluetooth, Geotagging and WiFi on your phone.

As a continuous process, you need to constantly communicate with your kids about the threats related to the Internet in general.

I like saying “When Mom is not around, McAfee monitors the kids online”. Keep parental controls turned on if you have to leave kids alone with the PC or smartphone. You will be thankful for it will help you keep track of your kid’s cyber activities remotely. To know more click here.

Internet Safety Resolutions for 2014

My daughter loves forming New Year resolutions! Every January 01, she diligently pens down her resolutions (always interesting ones!) on a pretty piece of paper, decorates it beautifully and then tacks it over her study with coloured tapes.  It helps her to keep things in perspective for the year, she says.

Sonny Boy of course keeps miles away from publicly displaying his resolutions. I have this nagging feeling that if I forced him to make one, it would most probably turn out to be “I must increase my score in some MMOG”!

Well, this gave Cybermum a bright idea. Things needed to be kept in perspective where the computer, smartphones and gaming devices are concerned as well. Why not make the kids slog it out over the Internet habits they should adopt in 2014 and the ones they should try and change/discard? It would help them to think, really think hard, about their online habits and take independent decisions, sans parental orders arousing rebellion in their hearts.

I was charged up – this had to go into action immediately! So armed with a paper and a set of sketch pens, I approached the duo and explained what I wanted.

What? Come on Mom, I am a teen!” wailed Sonny Boy.

That should make it that much easier for you to decide what’s good and what’s unsafe on the net,” I replied placidly. Being placid is the only way, you see, to handle the angry teens when you want them to do something they don’t want to do. Arguing never gets you anywhere.

Daughter did the eye-rolling and grumbling but boy was I adamant! So finally they sat down to it, and after some time I could hear them seriously discussing and arguing over what’s safe and what’s not!

Here is their internet safety list for 2014:

Things not to do:

1.       Never to participate in the surveys that promise gifts galore or click on the flashing message that declares them to be the winner of an Internet lottery.

2.       Not accept friendship requests from little known friends of friend and ignore friend requests from strangers

3.       Never tag anyone in pics they post without prior permission

4.       Never to get involved in arguments, bullying and gossiping on a public forum

5.       Not turn on Wi-Fi on their phones in public spots

Things to do:

1.       Always run the computer/laptop with a trusted security software like McAfee

2.       Cut down on the time spent on social networking and playing games online

3.       Use Facebook more to interact with cousins and relatives

4.       Download only verified apps on phones

5.       Report spams and bullies

Interesting, isn’t it? There could have been many more but I didn’t press. I was happy they thought up these many, the effect of our numerous talks on this subject 😉

Why don’t you try this at your home? See what safety tips the kids have picked up from you? It would be both satisfying and an engaging experience. You can join them too.

Happy surfing in 2014 folks – stay safe online!