Norton, together with Neighbourhood Watch, CEOP and Get Safe Online, are running a campaign to raise parents’ awareness about the risks their families face when they go online. And, at ’21st Century Fairytales’, we were treated to a morning of dressing-up, storytelling, and the opportunity to talk to the people heading up this campaign.
I spoke with Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, who told me about his 18-month-old grandaughter. She was watching Peppa Pig on her Mum’s phone; when the show had finished she managed to switch to YouTube, and started downloading videos. Luckily, I don’t think she got beyond people twerking along to ‘Happy’, but the lesson was clear: teenies can go from Peppa to porn in just a few clicks, if the right parental controls aren’t in place.
Get Safe Online have produced an online guide for parents of the new tech-savvy generation. As well as switching on parental controls, it advises people to make sure their children close browsers when they’ve finished, and to supervise their time online.
And there are some broader tips, too. Norton stresses that ‘you’re only as secure as your password’. Make sure it’s strong, with at least eight characters, and not something that would be easy to guess. A different password should be used for every account, and your email password should never be used anywhere else. According to Norton, it’s just as important to protect your mobile devices from cybercriminals as your laptops and PCs. After all, many of us store our lives in those tiny hand-held devices.
Kids know their stuff when it comes to online entertainment and networking. But they still need guidance; the NSPCC’s ShareAware campaign includes a cartoon clip showing one boy who posts a picture of his friend’s willy online, which then goes viral….before he knows it, he’s a target for bullies and a paedophile, and made a laughing stock at school. Parents, too, should be careful about how much of their children’s lives they share online. In this article for Quib.ly, I write that what may seem charming to doting parents, could be downright embarrassing for youngsters of school age.
As my children splashed around in the fountains of Granary Square, I was left with plenty of food for thought. Tony Neate had pointed out that, in thirty years’ time, we won’t be having these conversations; the new generation of children, who use technology even before they can talk, will have grown up facing and tackling the hazards those technologies pose. But, in the meantime, it’s good to know there’s a bit of advice on hand for those of us who are paddling to catch up.
To find out more, visit www.getsafeonline.org and click the ‘Be a switched on parent’ button.
I was given a copy of Norton’s antivirus software after attending Twenty-first Century fairytales. All views expressed are my own.