The internet has created a wonderful place for children to learn, explore ideas and express themselves creatively. We also know, however, that these activities come with risks. Without parental controls in place children can be exposed to inappropriate content, cyberbullying and even predators online. It’s not easy for parents to monitor internet safety for kids without feeling like they’re invading their privacy. That’s why understanding the risks and staying up to date with cyber security in Singapore is a modern parenting must.
The key to combating any big risk is education – for parent and child alike. To help you understand the ins and outs of cyber safety in Singapore, here’s a guide to help you navigate parental control online and internet safety.
Protection Against Inappropriate Content
Children are becoming more active online and at a younger age. But what can start as an innocent internet search can expose your child to content that causes confusion and upset. Examples of inappropriate content include material directed at adults, sexual content, upsetting images or videos, and misinformation encouraging dangerous or unlawful behaviour.
It’s impossible to check everything your child sees on the internet. However, you can help them avoid and manage situations where they may discover inappropriate content with these tips for internet safety for kids and cyber security in Singapore.
Protection Against Online Predators
Befriending a minor online in order to exploit them for sexual purposes or to radicalise them is called grooming. Individuals online may use a fake profile to build an emotional connection with young, impressionable targets through chat rooms, social media and other popular platforms.
Grooming can be a difficult topic to discuss with children but it’s important you let your kids know they can talk to you about their online interactions for their own safety and cyber security.
#1 Educate yourself on the danger
Establish what online predators are, the methods they use, and where they attack. Additionally, consider researching commonly used platforms in Singapore for more targeted cyber security.
#2 Teach proper online behaviours
Explain to your child never to talk to strangers online and that they should tell you straight away if someone they don’t know makes contact. Discuss the types of online interactions that aren’t appropriate and how to recognise red flags.
#3 Monitor devices and online activity
Keep devices in a common area and check camera rolls and photo files regularly. Monitor your child’s activity with parental controls, shared email accounts and by beefing up security settings.
#4 Warn kids about risky online places
Discuss the risks of social media platforms and online chat rooms and set time limits, rules and restrictions on access to certain apps and websites for added internet safety.
What to Do in a Cyberbullying Situation
As with any form of bullying, cyberbullying can be distressing for children and lead to a massive scale of harmful exposure. It can include abusive communication through posts on social media, messages and email.
The perpetrator can retain a degree of anonymity while the activity is shared multiple times, reaching a vast audience within seconds. This makes cyberbullying difficult to police. Your children can be bullied anywhere, anytime – even within your own home. So here are tips on how to help protect your child if they are in involved in a cyberbullying situation.
Discuss what cyberbullying is
Understand what cyberbullying is, how and where it happens, and the types of online communication that are acceptable and unacceptable. Point out that cyberbullies can be friendly at first, and encourage open and honest discussion.
Keep an eye on online interactions
Ensure you have access to manage or monitor cyberbullying on social media or email accounts. Parental control apps are also great for staying informed. Let your kids know you are checking their accounts periodically, as this helps maintain mutual trust and respect.
Set time limits for all screen time, including browsing online, games and homework. Put rules in place for instant messaging and social media. Both are good practice for general cyber security in Singapore.
Be prepared should the worst happen
Rationally discuss what happened with your child instead of emotionally reacting to the cyberbullying incident to help them manage what they are experiencing and feeling. Network with parents in your community to help protect each other’s children online.
Keeping Kids Safe on Social Media
What parents can do to protect their kids on social media
As soon as they’re allowed, kids will create social media profiles that will form a major part of their social life. Teach them to be kind and respectful, and if they see online abuse or bullying to report it to parents and administrators. Once something has been posted online, even if it’s deleted, it becomes part of your child’s digital footprint. This can have ramifications on their future. So teach your children to think carefully before posting anything.
Another important topic is privacy. Explain the use of privacy settings, creating strong passwords, and why 2-factor authentication protects against identity theft. Social media can enable strangers to send messages or friend requests to infiltrate your cyber security in Singapore. Teach your child to always ask a parent or adult if they are unsure of who the person is.
Make a social media contract
Teenagers, frustratingly, like to push parental control to the limit as they develop resilience, independence and confidence. This creates an opportunity for your tech-savvy teen to build trust with you and take responsibility for their cyber security in Singapore by signing a real social media contract.
In such a contract, the child agrees to consequences for breaking the terms to protect their privacy, not share personal information, reject contact from strangers, and not use social media accounts to hurt anyone. In turn, parents should agree to trust their kids, monitor their online activities but also respect their privacy and set a good example.
Tips for Parents about cyber security in Singapore
#1 Set clear rules and boundaries
Set aside time to negotiate rules and boundaries on internet safety and use these upfront. Consider agreeing on daily time limits on the internet or mobile devices, when kids can surf the web (e.g. after finishing their homework), what they’re allowed to do online and where their devices can be used.
#2 Set up parental controls
As kids grow up, there should be less reliance on parental control apps to help them learn to self-regulate their internet use. However, when they’re young, these apps can usefully restrict content and create time limits for apps and time spent online, enhancing their internet safety.
#3 Use a suitable VPN
Virtual Private Networks (VPN) safeguard sensitive data and prevent prying eyes from knowing what you’re browsing online. They can also prevent children from finding dangerous websites, inappropriate pop-up ads and viruses. Many free VPN providers sell data to third parties and bombard you with pop-ups, so to ensure it is bolstering your internet safety test your VPN service before committing.
#4 Keep everything updated
Set your devices to update new software automatically to help fix bugs or vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cybercriminals. Also consider installing antivirus software and firewalls to protect devices from being infected with malware to maximise your cyber security in Singapore.
#5 Warn about phishing emails
By impersonating companies or individuals and using fake emails, cybercriminals steal sensitive and/or personal data in a method called phishing. Kids should be taught how to identify fake messages that slip through their email filtering system.
The Internet and Teenagers
The internet is an integral part of a teenager’s life and socialising. For many, it’s also a safe place to explore different ways of expressing themselves and to find advice for physical or mental health concerns. However, despite being savvier than younger children, with less supervision or parental control they can still be vulnerable if they cannot independently identify online risks and manage their own cyber security in Singapore.
News and information is all over social media, along with clickbait and misinformation or fake news – whatever you call it. According to a study by Vodafone, 46% of teenagers claim they have fallen for fake news before. Therefore, it’s critical that teenagers have the digital skills they need to spot misinformation.
Contract risks and internet safety
Teenagers who have access to their own money are at risk of signing up to unfair contracts. If they don’t fully understand the terms and conditions, these contracts may leave them vulnerable to scams, identity theft or fraud.
Teenagers explore issues around identity and self-expression, which makes them targets for radicalisation – that is, the process of switching from supporting moderate to extreme ideological views. Online there are higher risks of exposure to – often violent – ideological propaganda and opportunities for others to validate extreme opinions. This is where strong privacy settings on social media and never engaging with people they don’t know is especially important to maintain their cyber security in Singapore.
On social media, teenagers see a carefully curated edit of only the best parts of celebrities’, influencers’ and even their friends’ lives. These idealized and images can fuel negative feelings about themselves. To combat this, teach your teen digital resilience and how to assess images critically. Encourage them to be kind to themselves and stop following content that makes them question their own worth. If it’s getting too much, take a social media break with your teen.
The Bottom Line for staying cyber safe in Singapore
A foundation of trust is critical to talk to your kids and teach them how to navigate online on their own and with internet safety at the forefront of their minds. The internet has been intrinsically woven into all of our lives, including our children’s. As a result, it’s never been more urgent to make sure you’re helping your child stay safe online and learn cyber security in Singapore.
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