Practically everyone I know has a Smartphone or tablet! From primary school kids, parents to grandmothers, the mobile phone is seen in every household in Singapore. Together with the Internet and Social Media available on our mobile devices, there are new concerns for the parents of today. (Do scroll to the end, and find out how readers can win family Megazip tickets and more, as they participate in this post)
According to a recent survey by the Straits Times, 76% of parents in Singapore are worried about kids’ safety online but only 66% are doing something about it. Another statistic shows that 93 %of parents feel that their child is at least somewhat safe when he or she is online, but s the Internet really that safe? Or do parents need to be more careful, when we let these mobile devices “babysit” our children?
As parents, we must start realizing that the Internet can be an untamed jungle and that while our kids are growing up as digital citizens, their cyber-savviness does not necessarily equate to their cyber security. To make it safe, we will need to build guidelines and restrictions, to make it age-appropriate for our young adventurers. After all, even adults are susceptible to identity thefts and money scams, where thousands of dollars are transferred to inheritance and lottery scams. Moreover, with the added risk of personal information being stolen via public wifi, cyber crime can happen in so many varied forms.
With all these concerns, I would like to be able to say that I have banned technology from my home! However, such thoughts are not viable, when technology is very much part of our lives. Instead, I have made simple adjustments to my everyday life, so as to lessen the impact of technology on my school-going kids.
Here are some simple tips:
- Mobiles, Tablets and Televisions are not Nannies!
As busy parents, we can barely find time for ourselves in the midst of our schedules. Out of convenience, we turn to technology to babysit our children and even our spouses. However, nothing can replace the love, patience and care that parents provide. Kids want us to speak into their lives, and an over-reliance on technology will remove this essential developmental ingredient that every parent provides. We need to “be involved”, when we want to raise the next generation.
- Password Protect your Media Devices:
Besides the tablet, the Television is a media device that captivates our children. Just like the smartphone, our kids love the world which they are transported to, when they engage with technology.
At home, I password protect my television set, as well as my mobile devices. This is to ensure that there is adult supervision and controlled amounts of “face time” for these young minds. Young minds need to be nurtured with a balanced diet.
Together with the threat of identity theft, I also educate my children on the need of a strong secure password whenever we set-up an account. Incorporating symbols and numbers in a password combination is always an important lesson in a cyber-reliant society.
- Age Appropriate Parenting
First off, we need to ask ourselves the question, do we really need to deal with the issue of mobile devices when our kids are in Preschool? Most preschool kids are dependent on their parents for everything. From travelling to point A to B, to food and social activities, they are always by our sides. Do they really need a phone?
Secondly, if they need a phone, do they really need a Smart Phone? Young minds may pick up technology easily, but maturity does not come overnight. Children need time to understand the world and time to discern between good and bad. Exposure to the real world should be age appropriate and incrementally added to their diet. Should we expose them to the dangers of social media, when they are still deciding on the existence of the Tooth Fairy?
Technology is a Pandora’s box, which offers advantages and disadvantages. Age Appropriate parenting considers these harmful effects, and exposes them to our children incrementally.
- Internet Filters and Parental Controls
When kids need to use the computer for school or recreational purposes, Internet Filters decrease the chances of kids stumbling onto unwanted pornographic, violent and racist sites. With Parental Controls, we can limit the time that children spend on the Internet and allow a “safe search” facility when kids use the Internet.
As a parent, I also teach my children the importance of being Socially Vigilant. Personal information should not be posted nor submitted to unfamiliar sites. Everything online is not as transparent as it seems, and we need to be discerning, when we surf and download on the Internet. Just as we don’t accept gifts from strangers, we practice the same discernment with the millions of dollars offered online.
- Role Modelling
Children learn from their parents. Effective Role Modelling requires parents to demonstrate lifestyles that help children develop a healthy lifestyle. When parents demonstrate control over their usage of technological devices, children will do like-wise. Parents need to teach their children to think before they post, and that everything that is posted online, stays online.
As a parent, I always try my best to practice the tips being discussed. However, it is never easy, and that is why we need to stand together to encourage one another, as we embark on this cyber journey as a parent.
With the Internet changing constantly, there are always new concerns and new variables to think about, but one concern has been around for a while and is here to stay, especially with our and our children’s increasing appetites for data and Wi-Fi. Just check out the video below:
Hope you enjoyed the video! 🙂
As one can see, while we might be cyber-savvy, we might not necessarily be cyber secure or safe.
To make the discussion more interesting, we have a bonus for our readers – we are having a giveaway for three prizes:
- First prize: Megazip The Panther Package for 2 adults and 2 juniors (worth $200)
- Second prize: ESET Smart Security 1-year for up to 5 users (worth $120)
- Third prize: $100 worth of rental vouchers for Y5Buddy Travel Wi-Fi
As we embark on this discussion with the National Security Coordination Secretariat. All you need to do is to:
- Comment on this blog post, and tell us if you agree that our children’s cyber savviness does not equate to their keeping cyber safe, and why. If you can share how we can teach our children to be both cyber savvy and safe, even better!
- Hashtag your comment with #simicybersavvy and #LetsStandTogetherSG.
- LIKE the Ed Unloaded Facebook page and the ‘Let’s Stand Together’ Facebook Page
- Make sure your comment is creative and relevant, as that is how we are judging the answers!
The Giveaway ends at 1800hrs on 8 December 2015. For more information and the T&Cs, please click here.
More about Y5Buddy:
Using Y5buddy’s portable wifi device is a secure, fuss-free way to get connectivity on the go, especially during your travels. To use the portable wifi, just turn on the device, connect to the device with the given password and surf the net freely! It’s THAT simple! Each Y5buddy device can connect up to 10 other wifi-enabled devices, perfect for sharing on your trips. For more information, check out http://y5buddy.sg/faq.php or drop them an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
More about ESET Security:
ESET is a global pioneer in cybersecurity and is known for its philosophy of proactive protection against cyberthreats. ESET’s technology and state-of-the-art antivirus solutions allow consumers around the world to protect their devices against cyberattacks, helping them feel safe and confident as they navigate the online world.
(Editor’s decision on Winners are final, and Facebook accounts used solely for Giveaways will NOT be entertained. All incomplete entries will also automatically be disqualified The management reserves all rights to amend or change the terms & conditions of this promotion without prior notice. Final decisions will be made by Ed Unloaded.com.)
(This post is an advertorial together with NSCS, but all opinions are 100% our own)