If you were asked to picture an adolescent on a holiday, a common image that would come to your mind would be of a teen in a tee and shorts, with headphones on, while playing games on the tab. Devices have almost become an integral accessory of youngsters today, haven’t they?
Summer vacation is here, and so are those long (and often emotionally charged) family discussions to plan a much needed vacation. Family holidays and time away from school could mean plenty of extra time online for kids, with a lot of it happening when you’re not around to supervise. This is something I want to discuss with all to ensure our children are capable of making informed cyber safety decisions.
As parents, we would like nothing more than quality family time. That said, our children are engrossed in their gadgets while we are hoping for family togetherness. You may not want them to carry any device at all, but that might kill their buzz even before takeoff. If you think back, as toddlers we did drag along their favorite toys wherever we went, right? All hell would break loose if we inadvertently forgot Mr. Fuzzy (the worn-out teddy) or Lisa (the long, limp doll) at home. I believe that we should allow our children the same freedom, now. The smart thing to do is to set informed guidelines.
The first part of security starts long before the journey, preferably long before last-minute hassles come up.
Here are some guidelines you should discuss at home as a family:
- Parental controls: (if not already activated) Set age-specific limit friendly parameters
- Connecting with strangers: Be wary of friend requests from strangers who may want to connect under the pretext of common activities. Identify the relevance of the email before opening any it and discuss with parents if suspicious
- Public Wi-Fi: Only use secure Wi-Fi and ensure your firewall is up
- Location sharing/Geo tagging: This can attract predators and alert others that a family is not at home
- Safety: Ensure a comprehensive security software is active and running in these chosen devices
And don’t forget to back-up data on all your devices.
Promote responsibility amongst the young ones while educating them. This is their chance to act like grownups.
A few simple rules, good rapport with kids and use of security tools will ensure that your family has a wonderful time, making the best use of devices. Holidays are for fun and the right online safety practices will let you savor this experience for years to come.
Gather enough memories to look back with fond nostalgia this summer. Stay safe, stay secure.