2020 was a topsy-turvy year for all of us, especially school children. Australian states and territories, particularly Victoria, jumped quickly between lockdowns. Changing restrictions meant that some parents had to take care of younger children at home, while older teenagers were sent off to school. Many students found it difficult to adjust to their new home-school environment, and parents struggled to manage their own work responsibilities while making sure their kids were still learning.
Remote learning means that children rely on their digital devices now more than ever before, which is not necessarily a good thing. Technology makes learning possible, but not without risk to the privacy, security, and wellbeing of young students.
Parents are right to be concerned about the safety of their children online. Australian blogger and influencer Leila Stead recently spoke to the fears of all parents when she shared that her daughter was starting prep next year, and was going to be issued with her first ever iPad.
Leila’s daughter is not alone. Whether your child is learning at the school library or the family dining room table, chances are they are doing so in front of a screen. Children don’t always understand the risks of the online world, which is why it’s so important to talk to them about the ways they can stay safe online.
Open conversations about cyber safety for kids, will keep your kids protected — no matter where they’re learning.
Identifying and combating online threats
Kids these days are often more tech savvy than their parents, which can be a problem. Children may be able to browse, stream, and download at incredible speeds but that doesn’t mean they are adept at identifying risks.
The best way to ensure online safety for your kids is to have open conversations with them about the types of threats they are likely to encounter online. The good news is that Norton 360 Premium security software can help combat many of these dangers. As fitness expert, blogger, and mum Brittany Noonan said, “I know it might sound like a boring topic, but it’s worth protecting your devices now to avoid so many headaches and worries later.”
Threat #1 — Viruses and malware
Viruses and malware have existed for as long as the internet. A virus is a form of malware that exists as a malicious code, designed to interfere with the way that a device operates. They are primarily spread through spam email and malicious websites — both of which can be difficult for children to detect.
Try explaining the concept of malware to children by comparing it to a real-life virus. An infected device is sick, and the symptoms include running slowly, shutting-down unexpectedly, and making school work and gaming very difficult.
Norton 360 Premium offers real-time threat detection with anti-virus, malware and ransomware protection. Both your home and your child’s school should have a firewall enabled to help block suspicious traffic; if not, antivirus security software is essential.
Threat #2 — Spyware
2020 was the year of Zoom and 2021 looks likely to continue this trend. Video conferencing kept businesses, schools, and our social lives running during lockdown. Unfortunately, it also exposed us to the increased threat of spyware.
Spyware is a type of malware that enables cybercriminals to spy on you through your webcam. Online hackers have been known to take pictures of unsuspecting victims to be used for blackmail purposes and to gather information about their real-world environment.
This type of behaviour is always a worry when it comes to the safety and security of our children. Remote learning means many kids have their webcams turned on for eight hours a day. Help protect your kids with Norton 360 Premium featuring SafeCam — software designed to block unauthorised access to your webcam.
Threat #3 — Data loss
Backing up your PC is one of those items on the to-do list that rarely gets done. Unfortunately, not backing up your device can lead to devastating consequences. Whether it be a ransomware attack or morning coffee spilt over your keyboard, years of precious files, photos, and memories can be lost in an instant.
Data loss can also be disastrous for high-schoolers, particularly senior students. A year’s worth of important work can be wiped out in an instant without proper preventative measures.
Fortunately, Norton 360 Premium offers Cloud Backup for PC, helping to enable you to securely store copies of your computer files in the virtual cloud. Students no longer have to stress about losing precious notes the night before a big exam.
Threat #4 — Identity theft
Identify theft is an ever-growing problem, particularly targeting young children. Identity theft is often only discovered if the victim requests a loan and discovers a cybercriminal has previously applied for credit in their name — in the case of a child, this can be ten to fifteen years after the crime has been committed.
Online criminals use a range of tactics to obtain other people’s personal information. Some of these are not so subtle — mass hacking of business or government systems is becoming an increasingly common issue. Writer, editor, and mum Bronwyn Mccahon shared her frightening hacking experience and the lengths she had to go to to regain access of her accounts — a situation no one wants to find themselves in.
In the case of school aged children, hackers may attack online accounts with weak login credentials. They have even been known to target the social media accounts of parents prone to oversharing personal information about their children online — a practise known as sharenting.
Norton 360 Premium not only features a password manager, to help your children secure all their online schooling and gaming accounts, but dark web monitoring. Should your child’s information end up on the dark web, Norton will alert you so that you can take steps to mitigate the issue.
Threat #5 — Cyberbullying
Bullying is a big enough problem in the real world, where parents and teachers can supervise children. The online world doesn’t offer the same monitoring capabilities, making it a perfect environment for bullies to spread anonymous and hurtful comments.
It’s not surprising, then, that remote learning has coincided with an increase in young people seeking assistance from cyberbullying support services. Kids Helpline recently reported that searches on their website for the terms ‘sexting’ and ‘cyberbullying’ increased by 55 percent and 39 percent respectively, when comparing 2019 and 2020 statistics.
Norton 360 Premium offers a range of solutions that can help combat cyberbullying. Parental Control helps enable parents to monitor what websites their children are visiting, what apps they have downloaded, and what terms they have searched for. The School Time feature is specifically designed for remote learning, and allows parents to dictate what websites are available to be accessed at what times of the day. No more browsing TikTok during maths class!
With Covid-19 vaccines being slowly distributed throughout the world, it will hopefully be not too long before we return to pre-pandemic life. Even when the effects of the coronavirus pandemic are a distant memory, cyber safety for kids will still be a top concern.
As mum and influencer Tess Gordon puts it “keeping our family safe online and teaching the kids about cyber safety has never been more important.” Whether your children are back to the classroom or learning remotely, Norton 360 Premium is an excellent investment that will protect those most precious to you.