Five tips for parents on Safer Internet Day

Safer Internet Day 2021

Today is Safer Internet Day — a time to reflect on the ever-changing risks we face when using the internet, and how we can take smart steps to stay protected online.

The internet is an amazing tool, and one that’s completely reshaped the world over the past couple of decades. It’s a resource like no other when it comes to learning (both structured and unstructured), work, socializing, and entertainment. But like any platform with a global reach, it’s also a place with plenty of violent, distressing, and/or pornographic content — and you can never be quite sure who is on the other end of the screen.

Most of today’s kids are digital natives, having never known a world without the internet. This comfortability with computing will be of some benefit as they grow up, but it also means that they’re frequently exposed to material and behaviors that can have real consequences for their mental — and even physical — health.

Social media safety tips

YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok — chances are you’ve heard of most or all of these platforms. Social media is wildly popular with kids and adults alike, and it can be a great way to explore new ideas while keeping in touch with friends and family.

It’s important to remember, though, that most social media platforms offer the ability to comment on posts and to exchange direct messages — meaning that your child could be interacting with anyone online, even strangers. What’s more, anything that your child posts online could potentially be seen by anyone else in the world.

While there are certain dangers associated with social media, there are also plenty of ways to reduce your child’s risk and make the platform a safer place for them. Here are a few practical tips for parents from the Acronis Security Team:

1) Set your child’s account to “private”

By default, social media profiles tend to be publicly visible, meaning that anyone can stumble across them during a search or by navigating directly to the URL. But you can set a profile to be “private” (usually in the account’s Settings page), hiding most personal information from public view but leaving it visible to your child’s pre-approved friends and relatives.

2) Tell your child to “think before you post”

In the modern internet landscape, it’s trivially easy to share pictures and other information at rapid speeds. Once something is posted online, it can be copied, shared, and saved to computers all over the globe without permission — even if the original post is quickly deleted.

Sometimes, children overshare details that could put them at risk. Remind your child to ask themselves one simple question every time they post something on social media: “Would I mind if the whole world knew about this?”

3) Explain how to block and report

Social media platforms allow you to “block” other individual users, preventing them from interacting with you or seeing your posts and profile regardless of your other privacy settings. This can be useful for avoiding people who are rude or who share inappropriate content. For more extreme violations, such as a user who is harassing your child directly, social media platforms allow you to report the account in question — at which point an employee of the platform will step in to resolve the issue.

Make sure your child understands what is and isn’t appropriate content, and how to block and/or report other users when the situation warrants it.

4) Review the account settings

In addition to setting your child’s account to “private,” most social media networks also support the toggling of individual features or privacy settings on or off. This allows you to make specific decisions about how your child can interact with the platform. For instance, you can often disable direct messaging, or set daily time limitations for an app’s use on your child’s phone or tablet.

5) Keep an open ear

The internet is a massive place, and cyberthreats are constantly evolving — realistically, you can’t prepare for every possibility. That’s why the most important tip of all is to have an open and honest conversation with your kids. Let them know that they can always talk to you about anything they see or experience online, without having to worry about negative consequences.

Final thought

Over the last year, many schools and businesses have shifted to a learn/work-from-anywhere model — making safe internet habits and cyber protection all the more important. Kids and adults alike are sending and accessing lots of sensitive information online, and cybercriminals have taken notice. From January 2020—2021, we’ve seen an 83% increase in ransomware detection around the world.

Staying safe and #CyberFit in today’s online landscape requires an integrated approach. Acronis True Image delivers easy, efficient, and secure cyber protection, combining reliable backups with a proven, integrated AI-based defense against ransomware and cryptojacking attacks — plus URL filtering capabilities that block malicious content from loading. More than 5 million customers worldwide rely on Acronis to protect their data every day.

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