Cyber Security Awareness Month - Day 11 - Safe Browsing for Teens

Published: 2010-10-11
Last Updated: 2010-10-11 18:33:11 UTC
by Rick Wanner (Version: 1)
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Welcome to Day 11 of Cyber Security Awareness Month. Today we would like your advice on protecting your teens' browsing experience.

As a parent of a teen and a tween, this is a topic I have had to become opinionated about and have presented to parent groups on occasion. While there is certainly a lot of overlap with the risks to pre-teens, the increased autonomy of teens can amplify the risks.

What sort of things are teens interested in on the Internet:

  • Websites and searches about their idols
  • Email
  • Games
  • Virtual worlds
  • Instant messaging
  • Social networking
  • File-sharing and peer-to-peer Applications

and the risks they can encounter:

  • Objectionable Content
  • Malware
  • Predators
  • Career limiting moves - what gets posted on the Internet stays on the Internet

In my opinion the last of these, career limiting moves, is  by far the biggest risk to the long term success of your teen.  This is the concept that what gets posted on the Internet stays on the Internet, and in a competitive career environment increasingly companies are using publicly available information available through social networking sites to aid in hiring decisions.  Questionable activities posted on social networking sites could have an impact on your teen's ability to get that dream job many years down the road.

If you have been following the previous days of the ISC's CSAM you are already aware of the wide range of technical, and non-technical controls that are available to you to help protect your family. I would argue that the most useful control is education, both for you and your teen.

With teens come at least a bit of rebellion. If your home defenses prevent your teen from accessing something they want to access they will find someplace where they can access it, most likely a friends place or a library. You can only protect them so much, so you need to provide them with the knowledge to understand the risks and hopefully protect themselves. For that reason the biggest defense you have is education. You need to educate yourself on what your teen is interested in and educate your teen so they can understand the risks and warning signs of trouble.

In order to be educated yourself you need to:

  • start now. The gap between what you know and what your teen knows is already huge and it is not going to get any smaller.
  • communicate with your teen and become familiar with what your teen is interested on the Internet.
  • join the sites, including social networking sites that your teen frequents.
  • become your child's friend on these sites.
  • be aware of who your teen has "friended" on these sites.
  • talk to your teen about what information they should and shouldn't reveal.

Something else to remember is that with the increasing availability of apps for mobile devices, their Internet experience may not be limited to the family computer.

Now that I have rambled on, it is your turn to tell our readers, what techniques, technical or non-technical you use to help protect your teens on the Internet.

As usual your advise is welcome through our comment tool below or through the contact page.

-- Rick Wanner - rwanner at isc dot sans dot org - - Twitter:namedeplume (Protected)

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