Please Surf Responsibly: Drawbridge’s Best Practices for Building a Safer Internet

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Safer Internet Day – February 11, 2020

The key to teaching your children and teens about Internet Safety is: Start NOW

Safer Internet Day, a worldwide event observed on February 11th, aims to promote the safe and positive use of digital technology for all users – especially children and teens.

Drawbridge’s mission is to keep organizations – and individuals – safe and secure. One of the most vulnerable facets in any cybersecurity program is human error. Children and teens, often due to their innocence, curiosity, are desire for independence, are prime targets for security attacks and inadvertent breaches, from hackers and peers alike. The best solution for human vulnerability at any age is education and proper training, as early as possible.

This year’s Safer Internet Day theme—Together for a better internet—encourages everyone to play their part in creating a safer, more secure internet. Adults and organizations must work hand in hand with children and teens to increase awareness about internet safety. With proper practices in place, we can all forge a safer and smarter internet landscape.

To build safer cyberspace for children, teens, and adults, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) encourages all people to view the Safer Internet Day website and the following tips for children, teens, and cyber-bullying prevention.

To help keep your children safe:

  • Be involved – Consider activities you can work on together, which will allow you to supervise your child’s online activities while teaching them good computer habits.
  • Keep your computer in an open area – If your computer is in a high-traffic area, you will be able to easily monitor the computer activity.
  • Set rules and warn about dangers – Make sure your child knows the boundaries of what they are allowed to do on the computer.
  • Talk to children about the dangers of the internet – so that they recognize suspicious behavior or activity. Discuss the risks of sharing certain types of information and the benefits to only communicating and sharing information with people they know
  • Monitor computer activity – Be aware of what your child is doing on the computer, including which websites they are visiting.
  • Keep lines of communication open – Let your child know that they can approach you with any questions or concerns about behaviors or problems they may have encountered on the computer.
  • Consider partitioning your computer into separate accounts – Most operating systems give you the option of creating a different user account for each user, so you can give them a separate account and decrease the amount of access and number of privileges they have.
  • Consider implementing parental controls – You may be able to set some parental controls within your browser.
  • Contact your ISP – see if they offer services designed to protect children online, or if they offer any special software programs you can install on your computer.

To keep teens using the internet safely, try a more collaborative approach:

  • Make rules that can be enforced:  Before setting a rule, think about whether it will significantly improve your children’s safety and how you can keep the lines of communication on the issue open.
  • Have a core set of rules the whole family follows: The most impactful rules are those that apply equally to everyone, so create a set of rules that everyone in the family is expected to follow.
  • Make rules together and change them over time: Ask your teen about the rules they have made for themselves and the practices they currently follow, and then have them establish rules they can commit to following. Make sure that the rules evolve as your children grow.
  • Remember: It’s not about the technology – it’s about how it is used. There can often be unnecessary hysteria around the latest app or how young people use devices. Teaching the family how to use the technology appropriately and manage privacy and security settings will help everyone learn how to better protect themselves online.

To safeguard against cyberbullying, try these best practices:

  • Teach your children good online habits. Explain the risks of technology, and teach children how to be responsible online.
  • Keep lines of communication open. Regularly talk to your children about their online activities so that they feel comfortable telling you if they are being victimized.
  • Watch for warning signs. If you notice changes in your child’s behavior, try to identify the cause as soon as possible. If cyberbullying is involved, acting early can limit the damage.
  • Limit availability of personal information. Limiting the number of people who have access to contact information or details about interests, habits, or employment reduces exposure to bullies that you or your child do not know.
  • Avoid escalating the situation.  Depending on the circumstances, consider ignoring the issue or opt for alternate options like subtle actions, such as blocking the messages on social networking sites or changing the email address.
  • Document the activity. Keep a record of any online, including relevant dates and times. In addition to archiving an electronic version, consider printing a copy.
  • Report cyberbullying to the appropriate authorities. If you or your child are being harassed or threatened, report the activity. If necessary, contact your local law enforcement.

In a digital landscape that is constantly evolving, there come many new unnavigated risks. Keeping a diligent watch over your children’s and teens’ internet practices and establishing an open dialogue today, will help prevent a security incident later.

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