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Helping our Children Protect Their Digital Identity

Growing up with technology and being hyper-connected from a young age, it is generally assumed that young people have a good control over their digital lives or that they are not really vulnerable targets for cyberattacks. However, young people do not necessarily have the critical thinking and analytical skills required for the use of technological tools. In a context where 40% of Quebecers between the ages of 6 and 17 spend on average more than 10 hours a week in front of their screens, raising awareness about personal information and privacy protection among young people is a priority. It’s no secret that education is key to adopting cybersecurity practises. Parents are key players in teaching digital literacy to their children, even though they may feel powerless or overwhelmed by evolving technologies. In-Sec-M has put together its top 3 tips to help them in this process.

1) Strong passwords are the first line of defence

Teenagers need to know how to choose safe passwords and learn not to share them with anyone, not even with friends. Make sure they use different passwords for each site that are complex enough and contain a mix of numbers, symbols and a combination of upper and lower case letters. You should also encourage children to enable and set up a dual sign-on process whenever it is offered. This multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security.

2) Mum’s the word: my info, my business

Social media and other online environments continually encourage your children to share their personal information. Teach them not to share confidential or sensitive information such as their social insurance number, financial information, phone number, address or full date of birth. Remind your teens that they can and should change the privacy settings on their accounts, as the default settings may provide more access to their profile data than needed.

3) Beware of deceitful downloads

The internet is full of particularly attractive content that directly targets children, but which can hide malware with serious consequences for the integrity of your devices and the protection of your information. Malware is often accidentally downloaded through programs or files that seem trustworthy, hence the importance to have a serious discussion with your children about this. Take active measures such as a parental control system to prevent children from downloading malware. For an extra layer of protection, equip all your devices with anti-virus software.

Without always being alert to potential dangers, teenagers sometimes can engage in reckless online behaviours such as downloading pirated music, videos or films. As parents, get your children thinking about how to consume contents in a way that is respectful of its creators. Also make sure they know the legal methods and trusted sites to access the content.

Teaching your children about protection of their accounts and best practices for safe web browsing, but more importantly having open discussions with them about the subject and the serious consequences of a lack of vigilance, will quickly make them aware of cybersecurity and turn to you when they have questions.

If you, as a parent, are looking for advice on cybersecurity, check out our best practice guide to maintaining healthy digital hygiene while teleworking: (in French only)