This holiday season, I was fortunate to have a chance to meet up with many old friends. We spent hours updating each other on our families and work. When I share what I do, I always got lots of questions as well as a few sheepish looks. Most of the questions were about what the biggest threats were online for kids and what parents should to protect their families. Our kids are growing up in a digital world. Parents love the amazing opportunities for their families but our worried about what else this world may bring into their homes.
Internet safety is definitely an area parents are struggling with right now. I find it is a combination of finding the time in an already busy schedule as well as knowing what to say to about privacy and security. Thankfully, many organizations are focusing on how to help parents keep their families safe and secure in the digital world. The Digital Citizens Alliance is one of these organizations.
To help understand what information parents need, the Digital Citizens Alliance, as part of their Digital Families Project, asked advocates, parents and families what concerned them most about online safety and respect. These results offered valuable insight into what issues mattered for families. Some of the interesting survey results were that:
- The number-one concern for most (55%) was malware, spyware, and viruses.
- The second biggest concern (roughly 20%) was illegal, illicit, or stolen content.
- About 30% of people with children had concerns about their children’s safety online.
- More than 50% had similar concerns for seniors.
- 75% felt that identity theft is “extremely important.
I was not surprised the number one concern is security. In my household, I was a victim of identity theft. This past year, we have received 4 new credit cards due to data breaches. Even our kids were not immune. Last year, we talked with our teens about the Snapchat hack as well as the risks of downloading pirated music and movies.
Fortunately, families can take steps to increase their personal security. In the real world, we teach our kids how to lock the door before they leave, what to do if someone knocks on the door and who to call in case of emergencies. In the same way, kids need to learn to take these same steps online. We need to teach our kids to stay secure by always logging out, setting a strong password and keeping software updated.
Families can only do so much. Overcoming some of these problems will require the help of technology companies, like Google, Microsoft, and Apple. One of the priorities of the Digital Family Project is to encourage these companies to provide more safeguards. More security and privacy controls are needed in our kid’s favorite apps and devices. The results of the Digital Citizens Alliance survey indicate many families agree:
- 19% said companies should “ban bad actors from profiting off of illegal or stolen content.”
- 18% said companies should “better police sites for stolen content.”
- 16% said companies should “ensure legitimate advertising doesn’t end up” on illegal content sites.
Without positive action by all of us, crime and dangers will continue to spread online. However, by working together, we can make the digital world safer for all of us. With the New Year upon us, it is a fantastic time to get yourself and your family ready to be safer online.
Here are some ideas to make 2015 the year of internet safety from the Digital Families Project.
- Sign the Digital Citizens petition, calling for greater security and content respect online.
- Visit the Digital Citizens website for information on online threats and tips on how to avoid them.
- Discover tips and tricks from other parents from the Digital Citizens Twitter chat on December 17 co-hosted with 5MinutesforMom.
- Like Digital Citizens on Facebook or follow them on Twitter to keep up with the latest on the Digital Families Project.
This blog post was sponsored by the Digital Citizens Alliance.