In this series, we will highlight 10 tips to help start the conversation around protecting our children in a digitally enabled world. The 1st part of the series
focused on screen time, browser history checks and social media monitoring. In the 2nd part of the series, we will dig into being aware of illegal behavior, cyber-bullying and virus protection:Awareness of illegal behavior
As the world of technology evolves rapidly, laws are being quickly updated to catch up to the intent & capabilities that the digital world enables. Parents/guardians must be aware of these laws so that we can help protect our children from legal trouble. One of the most important laws that parents and kids must be aware of is the illegality of sexting. Sexting
is defined as the act of sending sexually explicit materials through text message. The reason why sexting is such an issue is because the possession of sexually explicit material portraying minors is considering child pornography. The initial laws were intended to cover the possession of explicit materials by adults. However, the laws have not been specifically updated to recognize that the modern day environment with kids having cell phones and be able to quickly snap pictures and then share with friends. Unfortunately, ignorance is no excuse and it is better to explain to your children the illegality of this behavior.
Don’t be a cyberbully
It is also important that kids understand that cyberbullying is unacceptable. Sending private message via social media, text messages or emails to intimidate or threaten another is just not right. In addition, cases are emerging where parties can be held criminally responsible for their actions even if they were not specifically in the vicinity when the action occurred. In a recent case, a woman was found guilty of manslaughter for encouraging her boyfriend to commit suicide
via text messaging. While this case was groundbreaking in terms of prosecutors and ultimately the jury connecting the dots between her behavior and the ultimate suicide, I don’t think this will be the last example that we see of digital communication having the potential to hold parties criminally responsible.
Get virus protection
While most kids are just learning about technology and computers, there are others who are much more experienced about how computers and networks function. Viruses and spyware are created daily that is designed to intrude upon your child’s privacy and gain information that can be used to do them harm. Similar to locking your home or your car doors, you will prevent most of the criminals by doing this. While a persistent criminal will still break your windows or pick your lock, by and large most of the threats are eliminated by taking the basic action of having virus protection on your computer and keeping it updated annually.
What other tips would you suggest for keeping kids safe online?