Today’s post comes from Carol Carpenter, VP of Marketing for Trend Micro, Inc. As a mother of two tweens, Carol is also known as Trend Micro’s Cyber Mom and is committed to educating parents on how to easily keep kids and teens safe online while they learn, play and explore. Today Carol shares real and identified risks to kids that comes with them being online.
We’re mid-way through summer and for the life of me I can’t figure out where the time has gone. As a kid, I used to wait in great anticipation for these 3 sacred summer months. Of course after the first week, I would be hit with what almost all kids were hit with at the time…sheer boredom. Outside of camp or trips, there was little stimulation that could keep my interest for hours, days, weeks and months on end.
God how times of changed. Now I have children of my own; two tweens who can also get restless during summer vacation. Although there are still the normal whines of boredom in the house, I have noticed as my kids have gotten older that they are fewer and far between. Don’t get me wrong, I cherish those moments of peace. That said, I know that those quiet moments are lent to me by what I call the “one-eyed babysitter” – the computer. Like most moms, I work outside the home. The difference is just who I work for and what I do. I work for a large Internet Security company and focus my attention on technology that keeps families safe from Internet threats. Those peaceful moments usually signal one thing to me. My children are playing on the Internet surfing the Web, emailing, texting and doing much more.
The Internet gives us so much useful, important and educational information. At the same time – as a mother and a security expert, I know that the Internet could prove to be a danger for my family. Every family has to deal with these security issues when they have technology that connects to the Web including PCs, MACs, iPhones, iTouches etc. It’s imperative that everyone, including the children, know about the potential dangers in order to surf the web safely.
When it comes to kids’ online safety, there are some areas of risk that my company Trend Micro has identified. Most parents that I talk to are not aware of all of them. What parents need to know is that kids are at risk of the following:
– Being targeted by aggressive or unwanted commercialism (ads or marketing that is intrusive and/or age-inappropriate) — Some sites for kids are guilty of serving up ads that are simply inappropriate for kids (such as dating services, gambling sites). They are funded through advertising money, and are careless about thinking through the implications of the ads they are showing to the users of their sites. Some ads are designed to be so engaging, the child thinks it’s a game and not an ad, so they are enticed to click away. This could end up infecting their parents’ computers with malicious software that can spy and/or steal information from them.
– Being a victim of security threats such as hack attacks or scams. Social networking sites are popular among young people and cybercriminals alike. While kids are not necessarily the intended victims of crime perpetrated on these sites, they can be at risk simply because they use them. Some cybercrimes are designed to impact as many people as possible – they do not discriminate based on age. Criminals will use techniques that seem normal to the average user to lead someone to download malicious software without their knowledge (a technique called social engineering). An example of this is when a young person is offered to view a racy photo or video of someone.
– Being more uninhibited with what they say or do online because they believe they have anonymity. Kids can put themselves at risk, too. Posting information or photos of themselves that they did not intend the world to see can damage their reputations, candidacy for a job, or admission to a college. Posting too much personally identifying information (PII) can open themselves up to identity theft (even kids can be victims of this). Harassing others, if considered violent, lewd, or racist can be considered a crime. Creating or distributing music, movies, or video games that are illegally copied or infringe on copyrights is illegal.
I don’t want to cause unnecessary alarm and deliver doomsday predictions. I believe that knowledge is the best armor when dealing with the above topics. The Internet is a necessary tool in the digital age and can help educate the family in numerous ways. What I find is that parents want to help protect against the pitfalls but are unaware of the tools to use in order to do so. Part of the solution is relying on good old fashion parenting skills – time limits, open conversation etc. The other part of the solution lies in technology that can help limit the risk and act as a tool to continue talks with kids. Using both techniques you will keep your family safe from harm online.
Please check back next month for advice on HOW to protect children online.
Carol Carpenter is the global VP of Marketing for Trend Micro, Inc. where she is responsible for branding, product strategy, marketing and channel strategy for the Consumer Segment. As a mother of two tweens, Carol is also known as Trend Micro’s Cyber Mom and is committed to educating parents on how to easily keep kids and teens safe online while they learn, play and explore. Prior to Trend Micro, she served as Sr. Director of Marketing for Keynote’s customer experience testing, web performance measurement and management services. She worked closely with leading online businesses such as American Express, Barnes & Noble, Expedia, Yahoo and others to help them deliver improved customer experiences. Carol has over 14 years of product management and marketing experience related to Internet products and services and has led marketing and product management teams at Enviz, Tumbleweed Communications, and Apple Computer. Carol holds an undergraduate degree in Economics from Stanford University and an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. No promotional consideration was paid for this guest post.
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Original post by Tech Savvy Mama