Cyber-Bullying Happens: Be ready. Your child is probably all too aware of mean and petty in real life playground interactions, however there is something much more painful about seeing it published for the whole world to see.
I chose to live in Boise, Idaho due to its proximity to California home of the world’s most progressive technology and idyllic surroundings perfect for raising a family. The opportunity to lead a team of Business Development Specialists for Taos has allowed me to focus on IT an industry I love with the added assurance my children are growing up in a rural, safe and stunning natural landscape.
While watching my seven year old surf the net looking for pictures of penguins to draw on her tablet, it hit me; how isolated are my children? The world is at everyone’s fingertips including those of my children, and the connection is 24/7. When I was growing up it was customary for families to gather around the dinner table to discuss the day’s events, now due to technology most activities are translated in real-time and a concerted effort is required to communicate the “old fashioned” method face to face. Much of this country’s youth cannot imagine a life without technology. In fact misplacing a smartphone feels like losing a limb to them. As a result of this connectivity cyber security has become a new and unexpected parenting issue.
My parents used to make sure they knew where their children were going and with whom, and could leave it at that. Today children can be in the next room but unless you are watching over their shoulder, they could be exposed to things my parents would not have fathomed. With access to the internet it doesn’t matter where you reside in the physical world one can be transported to far corners of the world and new experiences. Due to the expansion of the cloud and the vibrant world of social media, security has become the new big thing in all areas of IT. Fortunately, in the mix of all cyber security concerns the topic of children has moved to the forefront of the issue among industry professionals.
I recently learned about community engagement activities taking place at RSA, the Security Division of EMC and a premier provider of security, risk and compliance, management solutions for business acceleration. Experts at RSA are going out to schools to teach elementary school age children how to use technology safely. Their effort inspired me to check in with Taos’ own Security Guru, James Arlen for some advice. James was recently appointed to NERC Working Group, a committee of experts who will deliver security metrics to protect against power outages in Canada and the US. James and his wife are raising a passel of kids. James has deeply considered the topic as a parent and a security expert. Here’s James’ thoughtful advice!
1) Monitor Children on the Internet: But not too closely. There is a balance between too much control and not enough control – just like in real life. Therefore, the more freedom you permit your child in the real world, the more freedom you should allow with the Internet. There should be a progression in monitoring – plan for it. Start with computers only in shared spaces in the home, but realize that will change, especially with post-PC devices like smartphones and tablets.
2) Relax Monitoring on the Internet: Once your child becomes a tween and a teen, relax your monitoring or your children may seek to try to outsmart you. Remember it was a 15 year old who (in 2007) hacked the Australian national content filtering firewall to have unfettered Internet access. 
3) Monitor Your Behavior on the Internet: Your behavior when using Internet-connected devices will be mimicked by your children. Recognize if you are reckless and lack thought about what you’re putting out there, your children will follow in your footsteps. And they can look at your browser history.
4) Privacy and Secrecy: Recognize these are not the same thing. Secrets are something you don’t share with anyone, and we all have them, but most children don’t get to keep secrets from their parents. Privacy is something that you don’t share with the world but is not also a secret, you can share it but only when it is appropriate. Many teens have a real problem mixing up these two concepts.
5) Don’t (unknowingly) be The Product: There is a fine line between customer and product when using ‘free’ Internet services. It’s difficult enough to see when you’re an adult – teach pessimism to your children! If you’re giving up too much privacy you should be very careful. If you’re asked to give up secrets – it’s time to talk to a parent!
6) Be Ready to Talk: This is standard parenting advice, but is very important in this context. It is not enough to be receptive to questions, urge conversation about irrelevant Internet activities; this will make it easier for your child to talk to you about the negative aspects of the Internet when they encounter them.
7) Cyber-Bullying Happens: Be ready. Your child is probably all too aware of mean and petty in real life playground interactions, however there is something much more painful about seeing it published for the whole world to see. Be aware that your child just might be the bully. Remind them that whatever they say can be used against them and that they can be easily impersonated.
8) Setup Limited Permissions: You know that you’re not supposed to be using the administrator account on your machine, you shouldn’t let your child use that account either. If you’re letting your child use your tablet or smartphone, be aware that they can impersonate you. They’re also good at memorizing your device PIN.
Additional great sources to explore:
by David Gross, Lead Generation Specialist and James Arlen, Security Expert