Killer internet security tips for kids

THIS week I overheard a conversation between a woman and her grandson about stranger danger.

It’s a conversation every parent or guardian has to have at some point, except that now we have to include internet safety as well.

When I was a kid, I remember my mum explaining stranger danger to me when I started walking home from school on my own.


She hadn’t given me any advice about being safe online, because she didn’t need to – it barely existed when I was in primary school.

But kids growing up today? They don’t always see the dangers lurking in cyberspace.

For those who have grown up in this digital age, our uber-connected way of life has always been the norm, and sharing information about yourself online is just what you do.

So, now it’s our job to explain the dangers to them.

And quite frankly, as the parent of two young girls, it’s more than a little overwhelming.

When I see other people’s tackling it, I soak it up, so I can be armed for future conversations (sexting!) with my kids.

I was slightly discouraged when I saw this woman trying to explain cyberbullying and dangerous strangers to her grandson, as he instantly glazed over.

Apparently, that’s quite a common response, I’ve discovered.

Chase Cunningham, lead threat intelligence agent for cloud security company Firehost, confessed to The Guardian that he “tried to explain to [my kids] about the nasty side of the internet, but it kind of fell on deaf ears”.

His solution? He and a couple of friends wrote a comic: The Cynja.

The comic, a joint effort from Cunningham, Heather Dahl and Shirow De Rosso, teaches kids about internet security – but in a kickass, not-boring way.

In other words, a way that could actually hit home for them.

“[My kids] didn’t understand what I meant when I talked about malware and botnets as a tech geek dad, but they understood that bad things are out there in cyberspace when they read the comic and saw the images,” Cunningham says.

The comic doesn’t negate the need for a frank and open discussion about what is and isn’t appropriate, but it certainly makes the whole notion of internet security more accessible for kids.

It’s just a shame there isn’t a comic about the dangers of sexting… I guess I’ll have to tackle that one on my own.

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