A new study from cybersecurity company Kaspersky has revealed that 63% of moms and dads in Southeast Asia (SEA) agreed that their children are using the Internet more than they did last year, quantifying the increase at up to two more hours daily.
Factors such as online classes, virtual tutorials, e-gaming, and entertainment to avoid becoming bored played a big role in the increase of time online.
Even before the lockdown, children have been aware of the “influencers” trend on the Internet. In fact, a survey done by Morning Consult in 2019 revealed that a whopping 86% of people between 13 to 38 years old dreams of becoming one.
There is a possibility that it is higher now given the additional exposure of kids online. But what does it take to raise the next Youtube or Instagram star?
The same research from Kaspersky, titled “More Connected Than Ever Before: How We Build Our Digital Comfort Zones,” conducted amongst 760 respondents from SEA, revealed that more than half (52%) of parents from the region trust that their children know how to keep themselves safe online. Only 27% refute this statement, while 16% remains undecided.
“Our kids are growing in a world where everyone is connected. A stranger can come from a different country and quickly like their photos or dance videos. Likewise, another can provide scathing remarks, or perhaps prey upon their innocence online. Amidst all these possibilities, children direly need the guidance of parents. To think that our young ones can secure themselves online is alarming. It is like allowing them to commute on their own without enough training. It’s dangerous,” commented Stephan Neumeier, managing director for Asia Pacific at Kaspersky.
“There is nothing wrong if your kid’s dream is to become a blogger or an influencer. It is like the older generation wanting to become famous singers or movie stars. What’s important is to support and guide our children on this endeavor. Arm your kids with the right mindset about success and failure, train them on how to balance their studies and their online activities, most of all, educate them about the right tools and habits that will keep their online experience safe at all times,” he added.
How to manage your kid’s influencer dreams
Today quite a few children use their personal accounts on social networks secretly dreaming that they will become public and popular. Kaspersky said this is a wrong approach due to the personal safety of such users:
- In such a situation, a child can take the desire to get acquainted in the social network as the first signs of popularity, while it may be quite banal attempts of exploitation
- Children often share much more information about themselves in private accounts than if the account was originally created as public
- Such accounts attract a lot of Internet trolls, whose unpleasant comments can lead to serious psychological trauma
“If you understand that your child would like to try on a role of a popular blogger, you should accept that his or her social networks will inevitably turn into public ones, open to all comers. You need to prepare for this and you can help your child to do it as safely as possible,” the company said.
Kaspersky has issued some advise that might be useful:
- Remember that social networks will remain a way of communicating with a close circle of friends for your child. Do not turn private accounts into public ones, it’s better to leave one or two sites where crowds of subscribers and trolls will not bother the child. A private account should be closed to everyone except friends, relatives, teachers and other important people from real life.
- Remind your child of his or her reputation. Explain that even if you put a lot of effort and time, the dream of becoming a blogger can still remain a dream. Moreover, everything that is posted on the internet remains on the internet, and too harsh and radical judgments, for example, can lead to unpleasant explanations with future boss, or problems with admission to a university. Therefore explain your child that, before making his or her overly expressive vocabulary the best bet, he or she should think about other, more acceptable ways of expressing yourself.
- Create an account for the public together with your child. Do not disclose any sensitive information – address, school number, phone, places you often visit, links to the pages of relatives. If the account really gains popularity, then any of this data can be used against your kid and your family. Teach your child what you need to keep track of what you are telling the whole world.
- Tell your child about cyber-stalking. Cyber-stalking is online harassment that could potentially grow into real-world harassment. It’s not about trolls that insult and offend everyone, but about people who are looking for closer communication, or meeting. It’s about the way crazy fans behave with their idol. A child should know that this can happen if his account becomes popular and remember that in private communication with strangers on a public account it is also forbidden to disclose sensitive information even if this communication has been going on for a long time.
- Setup the security of all social networking accounts. When you become a public person, on the one hand your social networks turn into the main part of your life, and on the other hand, there are more people who want to hack your accounts. Thus, losing usernames/passwords will become both easier and much more sensitive for the child. To reduce those risks, use anti-virus software, complex passwords that are different for all accounts, set two-factor authentication everywhere to receive one-time passwords sent to your phone number and backup password recovery methods wherever it is possible.
- Prepare your child for the trolls invasion. Even if there will not be much popularity, unpleasant personalities who have fun by mocking others may well appear. Explain to your child that whatever those people say shouldn’t be taken personally. Everyone chooses the most comfortable style of “working” with such people in public: someone ignores them and deletes their comments, while the others answer them equally rudely. It all depends on the created image. At the same time, you definitely do not need to respond to unpleasant comments in your personal account. Explain to the child that the choice of aggressive behavior cannot be transferred to the closest circle of communication.
- Remind the child of the law. There are rather strict laws about behavior on the Internet in some countries. You and your child should first check if the topic chosen for the blog is safe to talk about.
Lastly, Kaspersky asked parents to remind their children that not everyone becomes an Instagram star. “You need to put up with it and be prepared for it. Of course, if you decide to try to become a popular blogger, the mood should be positive, otherwise nothing will work out, but the possibility of failure should not be considered as a potential tragedy of your whole life, but as a chance to try something else,” it said.