Father’s Day Shout Out to All Dads – Time to Wear Your Cyberdad Cape

Whenever Father’s Day is near, I find myself thinking about the role of a father in the life of his children. He isn’t merely the provider or the solution-finder; he is their anchor, their source of security and mom’s support system. He is the one kids want to impress, his is the approval that make them happy.

Congratulations, Dad! Your task as a parent is no less tough and I know how hard you strive to do your best. May you always remain the superman your kids think you are.

Father’s Day is the perfect time to call all Super Dads to get their cyberparenting capes in shape and help our super cybermums ensure that the kids are ready for the digital world. Let’s talk cyberparenting today. (If you already are one, well then, double congratulations!).

5 ways to get your Cyberdad act together:

  • Monitor kids online: Start from the time your toddler begins to fiddle with your phone. Check gadget security and activate parental lock. (you can even reduce screen brightness that may not be good for the eyes). Once they start playing games or listening to stories, buy them the products and mentor them. You need to review the content beforehand though, to know if its age appropriate. It’s the same when kids sign up on social media so that you know the websites and platforms your kids are on, the people they befriend, and the way interact.
  • Teach kids social media etiquette: I remember the ‘looks’ my otherwise benign Dad sent my way if I faulted in my speech or behavior in public. Digital age dads need to do the same for the virtual world too – teach kids how to behave online- what to say and what not to; how to respond and how not to react; how to tackle issues and when to seek help.
  • Check security levels of all gadgets: Every new gadget in the house must pass “Dad’s security check.” Change default passwords and review preinstalled apps. Install and activate a licensed security software. In the future, your kids will be doing the same automatically.
  • Secure Wi-Fi and determine accessibility: Change default password of the home Wi-Fi and router and be the admin in control of internet access.
  • Be frank and approachable: Talk to your kids and share your own real life and digital experiences so that they in turn learn to share their concerns with you. Also, it can be helpful to set up device-free hours for the whole family to follow, or, if mom has already done so, abide by them.

Not difficult at all, is it? So, go ahead and implement these simple guidelines. Enjoy all the love, cards and gifts you are showered with on your special day- you deserve it all. Have a wonderful Father’s Day, Cyberdads!!

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Send Your Kids Back to School with Cybersecurity Knowledge

Summer vacation is on and chances are that your kids are spending time indoors as the scorching sun makes it too hot to go and play outside. They are probably lounging around with their devices, which may include gaming devices, smartphones, laptops, desktops, virtual assistants, livestreaming sticks, smart toys or e-book readers. And why not? These are the children of the digital age after all.

As a parent, you may be concerned about whether your children know how to conduct themselves online so that they have a safe digital experience without compromising their personal information. Recently, the news is all about social media platforms saving and sharing personal data of users tracking their activities. You have been reading about how hackers steal data by communicating with vulnerable children through smart toys or even change settings of devices, like the home CCTV. What bothers parents most is that they may not be around all the time their children go online. With many schools adopting BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and children having their own smartphones, the use of devices is no more restricted to homes.

Fret not. You can also become a super cool cyberparent- just help your children pick up some essential online safety tricks this summer for, as they say, prevention is better than cure.

It goes without saying that the first step is to secure all connected devices using a licensed comprehensive solution, like the McAfee Total Protection. This new solution can help you manage and protect devices connected to your home network while providing parental controls that can be suited to the needs of all age groups.

The second step is to discuss cybersecurity with your kids and set up DO’S and DON’T’s for them to follow when they go online. Here are some discussion starters to help you along:

  1. Explain the implication of privacy breach and data theft. Discuss how hackers steal passwords and data using infected links and phishing mails and what they can do with the data
  2. Share stories about fake social profiles, kidnappers etc. and outline the probable future consequences of connecting with strangers, even if it is a person of their own age
  3. Repeat often the cybersafety mantra- STOP.THINK. SHARE. Ask them if they have faced social media issues like cyberbullying, fake news, cyber stalking and converse how these need to be tackled

The third step is to share these top 10 cybersafety tips with your kids:

  • Change default passwords in each device
  • Keep passwords a secret, even from your BFF: It’s just like sharing the keys to your house. If it falls into the wrong hands, it can be misused.
  • Use only secured devices, at home and elsewhere: Do not make it easy for a hacker to steal data from you
  • Protect your personal data: Your data is your business and nobody else’s. Preferably do not share facts like your name, birthday, address, school, hobbies anywhere online
  • Say ‘NO’ to friend request from strangers: That 14-year old teen who seems to share all your interest may be a 55-year old. Also, be suspicious of duplicate friend requests
  • Never comply with requests for sharing personal pics: Would you hand over a picture of yours to a random person on the street? No? Then don’t do so online either
  • Refrain from opening email attachments or video/ message links. Be suspicious of emails that have your name wrong or have spelling errors like ‘www.yhoo.com’
  • Do not click on websites if they don’t start with ‘https’
  • Use 2-factor authentication to make your account security stronger
  • Keep location services off when not needed and do check in on social media

Your kids are a year older and a lot wiser. Let them feel grown-up and responsible by encouraging them to take charge of their digital lives. And bask in the glory of having done your bit to bring up responsible netizens.