In today’s digital age, safeguarding children and teenagers from online risks necessitate more than cybersecurity solutions. It entails vigilant monitoring and ongoing education to empower youngsters to navigate the online landscape safely.
Doros Hadjizenonos, Regional Director for Southern Africa at Fortinet, underscores the importance of addressing the multifaceted challenges posed by the digital world.
Screen time is an inescapable reality, with even very young children seeking entertainment online. However, the risks faced by children extend beyond cybercrime, encompassing emotional and physical well-being.
To protect our youth effectively, teachers, guardians, and parents must equip themselves with knowledge about online risks and educate children about staying safe in the digital realm.
Online Risks: The 4Cs
Online risks for children fall into four main categories: content, contact, conduct, and contract. These encompass exposure to harmful content, interactions with potentially dangerous individuals, encountering harmful behavior, and becoming involved in exploitative agreements.
Children must understand that what they share online can become public, potentially leading to adverse consequences. Additionally, they should exercise caution when interacting with others online, especially given the rise of deep fake technology.
The Role of School
Schools play a vital role in cybersecurity, as they are increasingly targeted by hackers seeking financial gain or student information. Unfortunately, many South African schools lack the necessary resources and cybersecurity measures to protect their networks and student data adequately. To mitigate this risk, schools can adopt integrated and automated security solutions that cover all network edges, ensuring comprehensive protection.
Extending Safety to the Home
Protecting children online is not limited to schools; parents and caregivers must ensure secure internet access at home. Endpoint protection and cloud-based security measures can enhance safety.
Monitoring mobile phones and messaging apps is challenging, but parental control devices and third-party apps can help. It’s essential to create a safe online environment and teach children digital literacy and coping strategies to foster digital resilience.
Building Cyber Knowledge for Teachers and Guardians
Teachers and caregivers must familiarize themselves with the online landscape, identify potential risks, and learn how to mitigate them effectively. Fortinet supports this effort through its Academic Partner Program, offering free cyber awareness courses.
Additionally, Fortinet’s collaboration with educators has led to the creation of engaging educational resources, such as “A Dog’s Guide to Internet Security,” aimed at empowering children with the knowledge to navigate the online world safely.
Safeguarding children in the digital age requires a multifaceted approach that combines cybersecurity measures, education, and a supportive environment.
By equipping children, teachers, and caregivers with the tools and knowledge to thrive online safely, we can ensure a brighter digital future for the younger generation.
By Doros Hadjizenonos, Regional Director for Southern Africa at Fortinet