June is a funny month for most moms and dads of school-aged kids. You are so happy to be getting near the end of a school-year’s homework assignments, classroom activities, field trip permission slips, and carpool arrangements. OK, maybe that’s just me. There’s also the slight sense of panic most of us feel as we try to line up a healthy assortment of summer activities – enough to keep the kids busy but still enjoying the break from formal education. Maybe that means summer camp, swimming lessons, art classes, sports programs or a long family vacation, but for most kids, the summer months also means a significant increase in time spent online. Even with the best of intentions, there will be hours, days, weeks where your child may not have an organized activity to keep their interest from wavering. So they will naturally gravitate to the online world where so many new adventures await.
The kids aren’t necessarily only sitting in front of the family computer. They may log their internet time on mobile devices, playing apps on your phone or playing games on an internet-connected gaming system. Those extra hours may mean your kids try new hobbies or interests out; they may collect new online friends from their fellow campers or friends at summer school; and they may think they have less parental supervision to worry about. I’m curious to know if research has been done to show whether or not there is more online bullying in the summer or if it’s closely related to the school environment. We certainly want our children to be kind to others all year around and to enjoy their summer, conflict free.
One thing that isn’t seasonal is cybercrime and our children suffer just as we adults do. They click on bad links, visit malware-infested websites and fall for online scams and tricks. We’re seeing phishing attacks that come in our social networks, on instant messages, over the phone and within gaming communities. Make sure your kids remember to stick to the house rules and avoid clicking on unknown links, opening emails from strangers and never to friend a stranger in their social network. It doesn’t matter what the time of year is, we’ve got to be internet smart all year round.
Talk to your kids about internet safety this month and every month. Teach them the simple guidelines of Stop. Think. Connect., promoted by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) to help them remember how to stay safe.
STOP: Before using the Internet, take time to understand the risks and learn how to spot potential problems.
THINK: Take a moment to be certain the path ahead is clear. Watch for warning signs and consider how your actions online could impact your safety, your kids' safety or that of your family.
CONNECT: Enjoy the Internet with greater confidence, knowing you've taken the right steps to safeguard yourself, your family and your computer.
Share your child’s internet interests if you can. Play a new game together, maybe using their gaming system or even on a mobile app. Enjoy a video Skype session with a relative in another country. Research a museum’s opening hours or special exhibits by visiting the website. Ask your child to find a new recipe online that you both will cook together. Many parents tell me their children are more “tech savvy” than they are. I don’t suspect that’s really the case but I would definitely agree our kids are absolutely fearless about venturing into the online unknown. Make it a super safe Internet summer and remember to “Stop. Think. Connect.” together.
For more tips on keeping June and all months safe Internet months, visit our Norton.com article.