Looking back at the technology revolution in recent years, it’s hard to come to terms with the fact that we have children under 10 who are more proficient with technology than their parents.

True, many of us at htxt.africa play tech support for our parents, but the rate at which children are becoming acquainted and comfortable with technology is incredible to behold.

But as we gasp in awe at the proficiency of today’s youngsters, they are gasping in awe at the playground that is the internet and this needs guidance says Carey van Vlaanderen, the chief executive officer at ESET South Africa.

“Children’s sense of wonder is far more heightened and their sense of caution far more subdued than in grown-ups, leaving them particularly vulnerable to digital dangers,” explains the ESET South Africa CEO.

For this reason, van Vlaanderen says parents should keep a constant dialogue going about the dangers online from the moment a child logs in. Don’t take that to mean “tell your kids the internet is the most dangerous place on Earth” but rather that like the real world, there are good things and bad.

Instead, teach children that they should never do something online that they wouldn’t do in real life, like revealing personal information to a stranger.

“Think sharing personal information, or talking to strangers on the internet where, even more so than in real life, nobody is who they may seem to be. This could go hand in hand with explaining why they should never open messages from, or click on links sent by, unknown people because it could easily be a phishing message,” says the CEO.

Parents should also be cautious of how long their kids are online for. While idling the hours scrolling aimlessly through Facebook, it may not be the best idea for a child that has school the next day.

“Clearly, not all online content is equal, and technology can be used for various purposes, including education, content creation, passive consumption, and pure play-time. If you’re concerned about their overindulging in internet consumption, consider creating rules and schedules for their time online,” says van Vlaanderen.

The CEO adds that once kids are on social media an open dialogue is vital especially if a child becomes a victim of cyberbullying.

Parents can and should use tools such as parental controls keep youngsters safe from online dangers. Many operating systems and routers contain this functionality out of the box and if they don’t there is a wealth of third party applications you can use.

At the end of the day however, van Vlaanderen reminds us that parenting in 2018 is still parenting, just with more silicon.

“Protecting kids online may appear as a technological issue, but at heart, it is a parenting issue. And so it is just another way of looking after them, one that mirrors and complements your care in the real world,” says van Vlaanderen.

 

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]