By Tony Larks, Vice President, Global Consumer Marketing, Trend Micro
We often talk about child safety online in rather abstract terms. We discuss the risks objectively, and talk calmly about the technology and the behavioural steps that can be put in place to mitigate these risks, all the while insulating ourselves in a kind of reality-bubble.
It’s only natural to do this, when you come to think of it, as few of us have had to deal with the full horrors of what can happen when things go wrong and your child is put in danger online. We’ve also not grown up as kids using the Internet, so perhaps we’re a little naïve at times of what the youngsters are capable of in this new virtual world.
A heart-in-mouth moment
A little while ago, though, I got a brief taste of the heart-in-mouth moment every parent dreads when I received an email from my wife while travelling on business. Our nine-year-old daughter had apparently been beavering away on the Internet for a school project, as so many computer savvy kids do today. After a while, my wife asked her what she was doing and was shown a whole screen full of pictures of girls which my daughter had been searching for.
Closer inspection of her web history revealed the innocent search terms such as “pretty girls” or “pretty girl with blonde hair and blue eyes” which could have yielded far from innocent results had we not previously flicked the switch on Google’s SafeSearch filter.
Danger is only a click away
It doesn’t take a genius to work out what might have happened if SafeSearch was not set to “on” as standard on all the shared PCs in our household. We forget at our peril just how tech-savvy our kids are, and how danger is only a click away on the web.
Apart from adult or unsuitable content there are viruses, phishing scams, cyberbullies and strangers you certainly wouldn’t let your children talk to offline, all at the other end of your Internet connection.
Yes, there are technology solutions – like the family safety capabilities in the all-new Trend Micro Titanium 2013 range – to help us monitor and protect our children’s online lives, but we need to stay vigilant too. Let’s make sure the web remains a fantastic resource and fun-filled virtual playground for our kids, by keeping the bad stuff at arm’s length.
Tony Larks works for Trend Micro and is guest blogging for the Fearless Web. The opinions expressed here are his own.