SKOUT Education Series: Basic Rules For Connected Kids | A Cyber 101 Resource

Basic Rules For Connected Kids

Blog Post Received from our Partner SKOUT

A reader recently asked:

“I’ve got kids, one in grammar school and one in high school. What can I do to keep them safe online at home at everywhere else?”

Keeping kids safe is always a top issue we hear about in Cybersecurity. Small and large companies are concerned because some of what they do could be used by kids, and because many employees have kids of their own. Parents are concerned that their children may be stepping outside of boundaries due to natural tendencies to push limits during childhood and just due to overall ignorance of the dangers. The most common question in a world where young people are often much more connected than their parents and guardians is “Where do we even start?”

Start with the basics.

There are rules you can put in place and knowledge you can pass on that can help keep kids safe online, on mobile devices, and everywhere else when it comes to technology. Let’s take a look at some of the top things to talk about:

First, the elephant in the room. Social media and sharing has become how kids communicate. Text messaging has replaced phone conversations. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other services have replaced the bulletin board and locker-side chats. Kids are indeed more connected with more people than the previous generation was, but that’s not to say this interconnectivity is a bad thing at all. More people can share more ideas and further better social and scientific changes faster than ever. As long as kids realize the potential dangers, they can avoid them, and use these wonderful social tools to make the world a better place for themselves and their friends.

The biggest issue these tools create is (since they’re not talking to another person or group of people face-to-face) the tendency is to overshare information that might not be suitable for public consumption. I’ve always lived by one rule: “If you wouldn’t tell your Grandmother (or insert your own conservative authority figure here) or shout it at the top of your lungs in Times Square (or insert your own massively crowded public space), then don’t post it or text it.” Everything that’s posted, tweeted, texted, or shared becomes public; even if you have your privacy settings up to date. Eventually, the likelihood that this information will get released to a much wider audience by accident or on purpose becomes a sure thing over time. So, if you wouldn’t tell everyone (or if it’s something you wouldn’t be comfortable your parents and grandparents seeing) don’t text, post, or share it with anyone online. There are, indeed, some things that are better and safer face-to-face.

Second, always remember that networks are connected by nature. The school and coffee-shop’s WiFi is used by dozens if not hundreds of people at the same time, and they can see what you’re doing if they’ve got the right tools to do so. Teach your kids that where they go, the sites the visit, and what they do online can be seen by others. This could mean the school administrations, or could mean random strangers, or could mean their own friends who are experimenting with information security and hacking. Kids should refrain from visiting sites or viewing information that they wouldn’t want everyone to know about until they’re at home. Not only will this help keep them safer, but it may just foster some frank communication on topics that you will want to talk to them about.

Next, remember that free is never actually free. What you don’t pay for with money is paid for with personal information. That means that free game or app will harvest data about where they live, when they play, what they’re doing while playing, their name, address, phone number, and a lot of other data. Let kids know just how much data can be found out about them by a free app, and teach them that this data has definite value to companies and advertisers. This is also a great time to teach kids about tricky sales tactics that might try to get them to spend money in games and apps to progress or unlock features.

Teach them about phishing emails, vishing, and spam. Let them know that people will try to get them to reveal usernames, passwords, and other secret info by email and by phone. Forewarned is forearmed in these cases, as kids are more susceptible to things like extortion emails and urgent phishing attempts. Vishing (phishing via phone call) is even more of a concern, as kids can be tricked into thinking that the caller is a person of authority (police, school officials, etc.) with fewer ways to confirm they are who they say they are. Teaching kids how to spot these attacks can help them avoid falling for them; and prepare them for later in life at the same time.

Finally, go over the rules about what they should tell people they don’t know. While the concept of “Stranger Danger” may be overrated (the jury is still out on that one), there are most definitely people online who would like to take advantage of others, including kids. Sometimes that’s for the purpose of stealing from them, sometimes it is for far more dangerous goals. Teaching kids that their personal information should remain personal at all times is a vital lesson as is defining what data you believe they should consider personal. Remember that kids might not consider some things (like their home address) as “private information.” No one they do not know in the real and physical world should ever be asking them for their phone number or home address, their birth date, their social security number or any other sensitive info. Likewise, those people don’t need to know what school they go to, or what their schedule is. Rule of thumb: that information should only be given to people who know them and also know you as their parent or guardian.

Kids will be kids, and will push boundaries and test the waters. While you can’t stop them from doing absolutely everything that could be embarrassing or dangerous, you can start to teach them about the impact of those actions. You can set limits, and make those limits realistic and workable; you can teach, inform, and show by example how to safely use technology while still having fun. This will keep them safer in the here and now, but also for the rest of their lives as technology continues to be, and continues to become more, intertwined in daily life.

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WRITTEN BY:

Erick Bacallao joined Champion Solutions Group in 2015 after a career of Software Development in Cuba at the National Cancer Care Institute of Cuba, followed by moving to the States with allAware.

 

Champion acquired allAware and its properties and Erick has utilized his extensive background and expertise in IT and Software Development to rise to VP of Product Development in less than 5 years. During this time, Erick has been involved with key projects that led to the launch of numerous products including CSP Boss, Inscape platform and 365 Productivity Insights.

 

Erick has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Havana. He won Gold Medals for Programming from the Ministry of Education in Cuba, and he is certainly still a Gold Medalist for Champion!

 

As President and CEO, Chris is responsible for the development of key strategic alliances and solution portfolio. He leads Champion’s go-to market and execution strategies for integrated offerings in the cloud, in security, and in digital infrastructure, always focusing on improving the customer experience and driving transformative business outcomes.

 

He also aligns key partner initiatives with company strategy and oversees corporate marketing and messaging to gain mindshare with customers and partners. It’s his vision and innovativeness that have catapulted Champion up the ranks to become a $100M+ organization—and one of the most respected solution providers in the industry.

 

Over the past two decades, Chris has also focused on mergers and acquisitions, as well as innovative product development. He is the original founder and an active member on the Board of Managed Maintenance, Inc., a SAAS provider and consulting firm that utilizes their award-winning One-View Portal to help the IT Channel and its customers manage their IT Maintenance.

 

Chris is also the original founder and chief strategist behind one of the original storage cloud providers, Storage Access / BluePoint. During the course of a few short years, he had raised $20M and took that company public on the Toronto Stock Exchange. It has since been acquired by Pomeroy.

 

In 2012, Chris led the acquisition of MessageOps and continued the product development and worldwide launch of its premier SAAS, 365 Command. Built on Microsoft Azure, 365 Command is currently managing over 1 million seats of Microsoft’s Office 365. After achieving this phenomenal milestone, 365 Command and other MessageOps O365 utilities were sold to Kaseya.

 

Over the past 35 years, Chris as worked tirelessly to not only advance his own career, but those of his employees. In addition to leading a $100M organization, Chris can also be found sitting with sales teams, cold calling and coaching, and validating why Champion has been listed on Best Places to Work by both South Florida Business Journal and Computerworld.

Ultimately, the success garnered by Champion Solutions Group, its associated companies, and their employees is due in large part to the leadership of its President and CEO. Perhaps the most fitting award Chris has earned is South Florida Business Journal’s 2013 Ultimate CEO Award.