Securing Today’s Online Kids, A Recap

Posted on by Lance Spitzner

As part of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (also known as #CyberAware) last month, we hosted the webcast Securing Today’s Online Kids. Here, I follow up with a summary of the key points covered during the webcast and answer some of the questions from the event. 

First and foremost, technology is not something to fear.  Technology is an amazing tool that enables our kids to learn, share and develop at an exponential rate.  As such our goal should be to enable kids to use technology safely and securely, not simply cut them off from it.  To secure kids, we first have to start with parents.  It is parents that our kids look to for guidance, it is parents who help mentor what behaviors are appropriate and not appropriate.

The key thing we, as parents, need to understand is that technology alone will not solve the problem.  We cannot simply install a security app on our child’s mobile device and say we are done. It isn't that simple.

We need to be continually mentoring and talking to them about what is and is not acceptable behavior.  Ultimately the issue is not what apps they are using, but how they are using them. There is be nothing wrong with texting apps, but if they are being used to bully another kid, then that is a problem.

In addition, the dialogue must be two ways.  Not only do we need to be talking to our kids, but they need to be talking to us.  One of the best ways to start the conversation is to ask your kids to show you what they do online. Have them become the teacher and show you how technology works.  You can find all the details from the recorded webcast. There were some excellent questions asked during the webcast, a handful of which I recap below. 

  1. Are there any alternatives to OpenDNS?  Absolutely.  OpenDNS is a free filtering service you can use at home.  Two other options include and
  2. Should I monitor my kids?  That is up to you.  How much or how little you monitor your children is a reflection of your parenting style.  Regardless of what technology you use, or how much, remember what is key is that you are talking to your kids and they are talking to you.
  3. What do I do about mobile devices?  Five years ago controlling kids access to technology was simple, as you only had to deal with the family computer.  Nowadays kids are constantly online with mobile devices.  One of the most effective steps I have found is creating a central charging station.  When kids are not using their mobile devices they dock them on the charging station.  In addition, all mobile devices go to the charging station before kids go to bed.

Remember, its ultimately education that will help secure your kids.

To secure kids, we first have to start with parents. 

You can watch more videos and learn about different resources available to you on the CyberSafety: Kids page.

Lance Spitzner

Director, SANS Institute

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