A Guide for Installing Security Measures on Your Kids' Devices

In the digital era where everyone is connected to the internet via their devices, we naturally fear for our children and the world they are connecting to. It is vital to ensure our children are protected when using their devices. So let’s see what experts can advise us about this.

2-Factor Authentication

“Something we advise our kids to add on their phone is 2 Factor Authentication with Google Authenticator app. This helps prevent data breaches in their personal accounts by requiring a 2nd authenticator factor. But I recommend Google’s Authenticator because 2FA text messages are not safe. If your phone is sim swapped, then an attacker can receive those text messages to gain access to email, which is also often used for 2FA. So I really emphasize to our kids that they need to use Google Authenticator app.”

Jeff Neal, Security Officer, Critter Depot

Content Management

“Digital safeguarding is crucial to protecting children online. There’s a strong need to provide internet connectivity as a learning tool while preventing kids from coming across harmful content online. Netsweeper is a real-time content management and digital safeguarding system that goes beyond simple URL filtering. We have been in the industry for over 20 years with the goal of protecting students both online and offline. The burden of understanding the nature of online content is something we have taken on and goes beyond content that is socially unacceptable for children to see (such as weapons or hate speech) to include things that are more nuanced or hidden on the internet” says Kelly Hart of Netsweeper. 

He stresses on the urgency to safeguard kids in the digital world by monitoring their online content, “As the growth of social media platforms continue and content remains largely unregulated, it’s critical that caregivers have the tools to control the access to harmful content and monitor for signs of bullying and self-harm. Mental health of youth, as well as child safety, is a topic important to Netsweeper and is one of the primary reasons we have developed our web filtering solutions. We can monitor youth activity, preventing them from reaching certain websites and providing a report to parents or educators. nMonitor, an extension of the Netsweeper platform, has the ability to monitor the content on a child’s device and recognize if text indicates signs of depression or suicide, and then send the device information to a designated digital safety leader. Parental controls via web filtering enable the creation of a safer internet experience for kids.”

Perry Roach – CEO, Netsweeper

Install a Phone Monitoring App

Trevor Larson, the CEO of Nectar HR suggests apps for monitoring your kids’ devices, “Apps like FamiSafe are great ways for parents to monitor children’s phone usage, including browsing history and suspicious activities. It also allows you to set screen-time limits, which is important because too much screen time has been shown to have negative cognitive effects on children, especially considering most of that time is spent on social media.”

He also advises blocking certain sites, “Apps like Qustodio are great because they are free and they give parents control over the websites and applications that kids are allowed to use while online. Websites such as Reddit.com, Tumblr.com, theChive.com, Roblox, Toomics and others should have access restricted.”

Parental Controls

“The easiest way to protect kids on devices is to use parental control software. This is effective for younger children in particular, as they can’t find their way past firewalls. Most parental controls include blocked websites, safe searches, and screen time limits.” advises Security.org Industry Analyst and senior editor Aliza Vigderman. At the same time, she stresses the need to go a step ahead as this step alone isn’t enough, “However, once children get older, they find ways, like VPNs or proxies, to get around firewalls so protecting them on devices will require other actions. I recommend, first and foremost, telling your kids not to share their personally identifiable information (PII) online. That includes their names, birth dates, addresses, phone numbers, and Social Security numbers. People could use this information for phishing attacks, child identity theft, or other cyber attacks. Make sure that they don’t reveal any PII online, even on social media accounts. They also shouldn’t post anything about what school they go to for safety reasons.

Antivirus Software

“You can prevent many cyber attacks by installing antivirus software on your child’s devices. Antivirus software scans devices for malware, quarantining malicious files in a sandbox if they’re found. You should also invest in identity theft protection services for your child, which will scan multiple criminal and financial areas for their PII. There are services particularly for families that cover two adults and up to 10 children, typically. Another topic to address with your child is cyberbullying. In our research, we found that over one in five parents of children ages 10 to 18 said that their child or children had been cyberbullied before. Teach your child not to engage in any cyberbullying, both as a bully and as a victim. It’s best to block bullies and not respond to them while keeping your parents in the loop.”

Aliza Vigderman is an industry analyst and senior editor at the digital security website Security.org.

Bottom Line

Ultimately you need to understand how to keep your child safe while using a connected device, as Restore Privacy’s Privacy Expert Heinrich Long says, “Maintaining your child’s safety when using their devices is incredibly important, especially when your personal and financial information is on the line. If your child is not old enough to understand the privacy implications associated with using a device connected to the internet, there should be restrictions in place so that sensitive information has no way of leaking. To do this, parental restrictions are available across phone, tablet, and computer manufacturers and should be used when possible. Additionally, it’s important to limit the number of online accounts your child has access to while taking advantage of two-factor authentication software in order to stop a potential financial transaction in its tracks. I have come face to face with far too many parents who did not establish clear boundaries with their children when it came to internet safety, and they paid the price because of it.”

The professionals’ advice here should help you take the right measures towards keeping your child safe online while also lightening a great stress from your shoulders.