Programs to allow parents check their child's net searches
on 04/01/2013 00:00:00
Trend Micro employs 5,000 people worldwide, including 220 in Cork, in internet security, dealing daily with everything from cybercrime to hacking.
According to Avril Ronan, senior operations manager with Trend Micro in Cork, children under the age of 13 should only be allowed to charge their iPads, phones, or laptops in a communal area, should not use the internet without a parent in the room, and should not be allowed bring their phone to bed.
Ms Ronan, who runs parents' evenings in primary schools and peer mentoring and education programmes in secondary schools, urges parents to realise they need to "formulate a usage contract" with children if they want to promote sensible usage of the internet.
"This contract is basically the rules around usage of the internet on a phone, laptop, or tablet. It needs to be done with all children under 13 and then altered as they grow older. Your child should help you to write this up if you really want them to get on board.
"Under the age of 13, the rules must look at where the phone will be charged, agreement about for how long each day the device can be used, and about where it can be used," she said.
"Children should understand why you are having this conversation with them, that it is about their safety. The key is sitting down, explaining why you are doing this, not lecturing. Explain to a young person why their personal information can attract the wrong attention.
"But the most important thing is ensuring that if they are uncomfortable with something that happens online, that they will come and talk with you. Educate them so they make responsible decisions on their own, teach them to be respectful of people, and never to say something online that they wouldn't say in real life," Ms Ronan advises.
"Children aged 13 and upwards need to be taught that if you send a half-naked picture on your phone to a boyfriend, it is a digital picture, can end up anywhere, and can easily attract the wrong type of attention.
"Also you need to ask them if they need to have 800 friends on Facebook. Do they honestly think that all these new friends who ask to befriend them are 16? And what if that person starts asking them to 'sext' them, do they not realise that anyone who accesses this picture can be done for possession of child pornography?"
In the Trend Micro education sessions, parents and children are taught to be aware of unusual emails as some, when opened, can activate a webcam on the laptop or phone.
Other emails open software which will automatically pick up credit card numbers as soon as they are keyed into a web page.
The sessions warn parents to access parental controls on YouTube, Google, and Facebook, and to retain control of family passwords for iTunes, etc.
According to Trend Micro, "you get what you pay for when it comes to internet security".
They recommend that families look up 12-month security packages available at IT and computer stores nationwide. Prices range from €30-€60. Recommended packages include Titanium and MobiCip.