Dangers are ever-present for youngsters who are not yet savvy enough to guard themselves against online threats. Photo: Pixabay

DURBAN - Today’s youth are true digital natives and society’s future tech enthusiasts. 

Dangers are ever-present for youngsters who are not yet savvy enough to guard themselves against online threats. Children need to learn how to navigate safely online and how to identify and protect against dangers so safety becomes a part of their digital DNA.

Ahead of Safer Internet Day on Tuesday, February 5, BullGuard, a multi-award winning consumer cybersecurity company, offers up 8 tips and advice on how to create a safe and healthy internet environment.

Advice for Adults:

1.Talk to Your Child. Talk regularly with your children about how they use technology. Ask which sites and services they frequently use. Communication is key to understanding your kids’ online behavior and how they feel about online interactions. Listen intently and don’t be afraid to have frank discussions about the risks they might encounter.

2. Use Parental Controls. Many tools exist to help manage the devices used by your family. Parental controls help parents block access to suspicious websites, put search filters in place to prevent harmful content, and even block specific applications. Many of these tools are easy to install and configure and can help parents discreetly monitor their kids online activities. It’s even possible to limit the time your kids spend online.

3. Enable Privacy Settings. You can help to keep your kids safe online by using features such as privacy settings on social media, and understanding how to make a report to providers on a range of apps, games and services. Come together to talk and map out how your family will use the internet safely and positively.

Tips to Pass on to Young Children:

1. Understand Stranger Danger. Not everyone online is a friend - and it’s important to teach children this early on. Lay out rules such as never agree to meet up with someone they only know online. Advise them to always keep personal information such as their full name, email address, phone number and passwords secret, and to check with an adult before sharing any details online.

2. Follow the Golden Rule. It’s important that young children understand words said online are just as harmful as words said face-to-face. Teach your child to be kind and positive to people online even if they only know them through live chat. Don’t be afraid to tell your child to take a break from online activity if they start to feel worried, upset, confused or anxious.

Advice for Older Children:

1. Learn to Be Empathic and Stand up. When online, treat your relationships as you would offline; create, develop and maintain positive and valuable connections. Showing empathy is not weakness - it’s a strength. It's important to build positive relationships by showing empathy to others online and not making harmful judgments. 

2. Set Personal Privacy Standards. Remember to update your privacy settings and keep personal things personal. Right or wrong, you are being judged by your online persona. Be skeptical as well and don’t believe what you read online. Think carefully about where it comes from and who’s written it. 

3. Security Is Not a Game. Online gaming is fun, but it’s not fun if you don’t employ security protection. Never turn off security features as this creates vulnerabilities enabling a range of malware to penetrate your computer effortlessly. Get a good Game Booster that enables lightning-fast gaming, while running essential security protection at the same time.