Internet Safety 101 (Kids Edition)

17 January 2020


Before going further, we would like to wish our readers a happy and healthy New Year and hope that you will look back at the past year with the warmest of memories. For the first article of 2020, we want to focus on the new beginning and happiness which can be represented by “children”. As we all know, in Thailand, the second Saturday of every January is Children’s Day. That’s why we would love to take this opportunity to raise the awareness of online safety for kids.


In the article from the Guardian, professionals share the same advice on internet security they give to their own children who still think that the internet is a magical place to explore. What about viruses, phishing, social networking etiquette and other security issues? To teach children to use the internet safely seems harder than it looks. Don’t worry! We might have a way out for you. Let’s hear what internet security experts would say when it comes to teaching their own kids what they know best.


The sooner, the better

According to David Emm, senior security researcher at internet security company Kaspersky Lab, parents should start to discuss at an early age. This is because kids might still be using the computer with you and that is your opportunity to give them a lesson. 


You need to point them out that the world they see on the computer is no different from the real world they live in. There are both safe and unsafe things out there.  Therefore, it is best to be prepared and stay protected and what can we do to protect us from online threats? This is a smooth introduction to creating passwords, which is the most basic method of getting close to internet security. 


When your children get older and begin to use computers independently, let them create their own accounts with online game websites such as Moshi Monsters or Club Penguin. In the process, you can help them create a sensible password to stay protected online and explain to them the importance of creating different passwords for each account and the negative consequence of doing otherwise.


Don't do unto others (online) what you don't want done unto you (face to face)

Confucius once said, “Don't do unto others what you don't want done unto you.” Shelagh McManus, online safety advocate for security software Norton by Symantec, says something quite similar about online security: “If you wouldn’t do it face to face—Don’t do it online.” For example, would you say offensive things to friends or strangers that just walked past you on the streets? Of course not, right? Maybe you feel like there is a distance between you and the person you are talking to through the computer screen, but don’t forget that you are actually talking to a real person just via an online platform. In other words, what you did online has an impact on the real world. 


A while ago there was a controversy that HR personnel actually looked at social media profiles when evaluating potential candidates. Many expressed their opinions whether this was the right thing to do or not. However, that’s not the point. Instead, what needs to be focused on here is the fact that everything we do over the internet is captured forever and could come back to haunt us at any moment.


This is the reason why McManus and her husband asked random questions based on what their children had put online just to remind them the importance of setting their social media profiles private unless they want their mom, dad or future employees asking about what they exactly did with their friends on this specific date and time. It’d better be the same story! 


Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes

What’s this? That’s Greek to me. Well, it actually is Greek proverb whose meaning is “Beware of Strangers Bearing Gifts”. This leads to our last advice of online security for children. Amichai Shulman, CTO of network security firm Imperva, said that adults have often been victims of cyber attack, so we cannot expect children to be any better – when they are more curious than cautious by nature. 


That is the reason why he taught his children to beware of strangers bearing online gifts much like they should do in the real world. He would not allow the children to open unsolicited email attachments just like he would not let them open a mail package if they don’t know who sent it no matter how much they want to know what is inside the attachment or the package. What if those gifts turn out to be malware, virus or something that could cause physical harm to them? Better safe than sorry!


How have you dealt with the issue of internet safety with your own kids or younger relatives? Would you have done it differently? There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to the safety of your loved ones whether in the real world or the online world. What actually matters is whether you have actually done anything to ensure that they are safe and sound in both worlds.