Recent research from Norton by Symantec reveals that more than eight in ten UAE parents (85 percent) are concerned about their children’s safety on the internet. Half of UAE parents worry their children will be bullied or harassed (49 percent), or will be lured away by a stranger (54 percent), and two in three (67 percent) believe children today are more exposed to online dangers than children five years ago.
According to the Norton Cyber Security Insights Report, a survey of nearly 21,000 consumers globally, two in five parents in the UAE believe their children are more likely to be bullied online than at school in the playground. In addition to cyberbullying, parents’ chief concerns are that their children might:
- Download malicious programs or apps (60 percent)
- Disclose too much personal information to strangers (51 percent)
- Say or do something online that makes the whole family vulnerable (52 percent)
- Post something that will haunt them in the future with job or university prospects (48 percent)
While nearly three in ten UAE parents allow their children under six years to access the internet, a majority of parents implement proactive measures to keep their children safe online, such as limiting access to certain websites and apps (48 percent) or allowing Internet access only under parental supervision (47 percent).
“Parents play a critical role in educating their children on the boundaries for acceptable and safe internet behaviours. An open dialogue about online experiences is the first step in protecting children online,” said Tamim Taufiq, Head of Norton Middle East. “The internet is a valuable resource for children’s development, and our children today don’t know a world without it. Preventing children from going online is not necessarily the answer, we encourage parents to establish house rules on internet usage based on their age and talk to their children about their online experiences.”
Talking about online etiquette, online boundaries, safe internet habits, online experiences and cyberbullying doesn’t have to be challenging. This year, as part of Safer Internet Day, Norton wants to help parents identify the signs of cyberbullying, empower them to start a conversation with their children and establish “netiquette” when the time is right.
Some notable signs of cyberbullying amongst children include:
- Appearing nervous when receiving a text/online message or email or begin avoiding their devices or using them excessively
- Making excuses to avoid going to school, grades beginning to decline or acting up
- Becoming defensive or secretive about online activity or delete social media accounts
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping, stomach aches, headaches, and weight loss or gain
- Appearing particularly angry, frustrated or sad, especially after going online/checking devices
Tips on how parents can keep their children safe online:
- Establish a set of guidelines for how your children use technology, also known as online etiquette. These guidelines may include how much time can be spent online, which websites are safe to use or what language is appropriate when chatting.
- Create a set of House Rules for children’s online communication, downloading, websites that are safe to visit, and cyber harassment. A decrease in negative online experiences is closely linked to households where there is an open dialogue with children about online safety.
- Teach young children to use strong and unique passwords across all their accounts and never to share passwords, even with their friends.
- Discuss the risks of posting and sharing private information, videos, and photographs, especially on social media websites – everything posted online is a digital footprint for children and can be challenging to completely erase. Parents should help ensure their children are not posting content that will compromise their security or which they may regret when they are older.
- Children are likely to imitate their parents’ behaviour, so parents are encouraged to lead by example and show their children how to safely surf online
- Encourage kids to think before they click; whether they’re looking at online video sites, receiving an unknown link in an email or even browsing the web and seeing banners or pop-ups, remind your children not to click links which may take them to dangerous or inappropriate sites. Clicking unknown links is a common way devices are infected with malware and also can reveal private and valuable information to criminals.
- Use a robust and trusted security software solution, such as Norton Security, for all household devices – from tablets to smartphones, laptops and desktops.
- Most importantly, encourage and maintain an open and ongoing dialogue with your children on Internet use and experiences.