On Sunday May 2, 2021, our Head of Network and Endpoint Security Richard Frost was privileged enough to be part of a segment on Carte Blanche. In it, he discussed the topic of Digital Predators and targeting children online (which can be found here).

Whilst the segment went a long way towards raising awareness around the grim reality that is child sexual abuse online, Richard feared that there weren’t enough solutions presented. Yes, the problem was noted, but how could the public identify and address it? As a father, this weighed heavily on his mind, so much so that it inspired this guide to navigating your kids Internet use.

First off, the hard facts:

A study conducted via the Centre for Cyber Safety and Education assessed the usage of kids between grades 4 and 8, and the results were quite alarming. From the findings, some of the more damning statistics indicated that 40% of the kids surveyed had either connected or chatted with a stranger online. Of those:

  • 53% had revealed their phone number to a stranger.
  • 21% spoke via phone with a stranger.
  • 15% attempted to meet a stranger.
  • 11% met a stranger in their own home, the stranger’s home, a park, mall or restaurant.
  • 30% texted a stranger from their phone.
  • 6% revealed their home address to a stranger.

Scarily, 90% of these kids revealed they have at least one device capable of unmoderated browsing. This indicates a serious problem with potentially devastating consequences, as not only are our kids sitting ducks, but there is a world full of dangerous predators ready, willing and able to take advantage of them.

But what can we, as parents, do about it?

While the above has hopefully grabbed your attention, today’s piece is about solutions, and thankfully there are a variety of behaviour and technological based controls for parents to implement to safeguard their families.

You can start by moderating their airtime and restricting their access between certain hours. Separate them from their devices if they’re meant to be studying or sleeping, and move the family devices to common areas where you can keep an eye on their browsing habits. For toddlers, you can download content in advance and switch off the connection later, and even games or social media should be carefully controlled.

Similarly, it’s relatively easy to regulate your kid’s social media content. Teach your young ones what not to share with the outside world (particularly new people), as predators take advantage of naiveite. Educate them on not revealing private information such as plans, addresses or whereabouts, and maintain an open line of communication so that they’re not afraid to confide in you.  Be open and explain the dangers, and don’t yell if they make a mistake, let them feel like you’re there to listen should anything unwanted occur.

You should also educate your kids on the dangers of adding, accepting or meeting strangers online (again, even when gaming). Remember that it’s easy to change your identity and pretend to be someone else, which is what many people do to gain the trust of their victims. Warn your little ones about the dangers of meeting anyone they don’t know and enforce strict rules around keeping you informed of their whereabouts at all times.

Lastly, set Internet guidelines and disable location services via your apps. Keep an eye out for behavioural changes including sudden secrecy, unexplained gifts or increased alone time. As a parent, you usually instinctively know when your child is upset. However, pay close attention to their behaviour for anything unusual; particularly before, during and after going Online.

Cyber Security Software

Although your first steps should be correcting browsing behaviour, there are several tools designed to protect your kids online which should be considered your primary line of defence.

Our Vox Software is sourced only from award winning, international market leaders. Trusted by consumers the world over, you’ll be configured according to your needs without compromising on security. You can enjoy these solutions on either a monthly or once-off fee structure depending on your budget or add them to existing FTTH/FTTB packages. Our support desk can assist with installation and training, as well as provide an easy “how-to” guide.

The following products can be used to help protect children online:

Kaspersky Safe Kids (offered by Vox):

Compatible with PC, Mac & Mobile, Vox offers our customers the Kaspersky Total Security Solution.

How does it work?

Kaspersky Safe Kids includes an app for your child together with a parent app. This gets connected via your “My Kaspersky” account. Your own mobile app will allow you to see reports and customise settings accordingly, while you can manage your child’s settings and check reports via your “My Kaspersky” account.

How it keeps your kids safe online:

  • The software allows you to block access to adult websites and content.
  • As a parent, you can block harmful YouTube search requests on topics like drugs & alcohol.
  • You can also manage access to games & inappropriate apps as well as your kid’s screen time by device.
  • If required, you can share expert advice and tips from child psychologists on online topics

How it helps you protect your kids in the real world:

  • Kaspersky Safe Kids uses a GPS tracker to locate whereabouts on a real-time, online map.
  • You can define a “safe area” for your kids to stay within, with instant alerts should they move beyond said area.
  • You’ll be notified when a device is low on battery in order to always stay connected.

In your journey to make things safer for your child, the more protection the better. Sadly, predators are real, and any kid can be a victim. As a parent, I strongly believe in all the products and measures stated above, and I pray that these may be of similar assistance to you.

Keep an eye out for our next feature on our soon-to-be-launched product, Digimune, which takes Dark Web safety to a new level.

Until then, stay safe.