How to Teach Your Teen to Be Cyber-Safe

How to Teach Your Teen to Be Cyber-Safe

As the Internet continues to connect people from around the world, the digital footprint of individuals, companies, and countries grows at an outstanding rate.

While this is a testament to the power of the Internet, it poses a few unique problems that have never been seen before. Some of the issues associated with this are related to cybercrimes.

The recently concluded HITB+CyberWeek held in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates last October 12 to 17, 2019 is a vital step towards addressing the future’s cybersecurity issues.

The Hack In The Box event has been dubbed as a platform that seeks to bring together the world’s leading thinkers and cybersecurity experts to provide technical talks and training with the end goal of finding the next generation of cybersecurity experts.

All in the family

The week-long event offered various activities geared not only toward those interested in cybersecurity. HITB also provided talks and training benefits for the youth and families.

Among the activities geared toward the youth and families is Hack in the Class, Social Media Story, Hacking of Everything, Game of Cyber Threats, and Cyber Smart.

Cyber Smart tackled a critical yet sensitive topic that modern parents face: finding the balance between protecting kids from online dangers and respecting their privacy.

As a parent, you want to give your child every advantage in life. And while the Internet provides today’s kids with a wealth of knowledge, along with these benefits come threats that previous generations of parents and kids have never faced before.

Cyber Smart’s goal is to provide parents a thorough understanding of the different risks that kids can face when they are exposed to the various online platforms. These risks include cyberbullying, isolation from friends and families, addiction, and access to inappropriate content.

Talking to your kids about cyber threats

Many of today’s kids are seemingly tethered to their gadgets. That poses three unique risks: inappropriate conduct, inappropriate contact, and inappropriate content.

This is why parents must talk to their kids about these as soon as possible. But how do you initiate that conversation?

The need to start this conversation early cannot be overemphasized. As a parent, you are in a unique position to discuss these threats with your children. During your talk, it is vital that you listen with openness and respect. Your children are waiting for your guidance, and it is crucial to approach the conversation with a positive outlook and support.

Do not wait until your child comes to you asking questions. Often, the opportunity to discuss matters related to cybersecurity and safety presents itself in various forms like TV programs, news articles, etc.

During your talk, it is worthwhile to pin the conversation around the values that you want to teach your children. This provides your discussion with your kids with a deeper context that will enable them to make smarter decisions online.

Be aware that this conversation is not a one-and-done thing. Your children may approach you from time to time, asking questions, and seeking guidance. Here, it is crucial to maintain patience. Be thorough with your discussions and cover as much ground as possible.

Talking points

What exactly should you discuss with your kids about cybersecurity? Here are a few topics that can serve as a jump-off point for your talk with your children.

●       Think before you click

Whether they are updating their social media accounts or conversing with your children, it is critical that they think about what they are typing. Once they send a message across, it can be difficult to delete that.

●       Privacy settings

Online platforms like blogs, social media, and chat rooms have built-in privacy settings. During your conversation with your children, discuss with them the need for you to tweak these settings, especially in terms of who can see their profiles.

●       Check their friends list

Review your kids’ online friends list. If there is anyone unfamiliar to you, do not hesitate to ask your children about them. As much as possible, your kids’ friends list should only include people you know.

●       Protection from predators

Sex can be a touchy topic for both kids and their parents. However, there is no going around this sensitive issue. You must underscore the importance of avoiding sex talk with strangers.

●       Know the platforms they use

Do not wait for your children to tell you which social media platforms they use. Be proactive and conduct some online sleuthing to find which platforms your kids are on. This will allow you to monitor their online activities better.

●       Teach your children to trust their instincts

If your children feel that something is amiss in their online interactions, they shouldn’t hesitate to come to you. If they feel uncomfortable or harassed by anybody, their first recourse should be to ask for your guidance.

●       Choosing a screen name and setting up a profile

While it may seem cool or funny to your children, under no circumstance should they create an account pretending to be somebody else.

They should also learn how to create a username that doesn’t divulge too much information about them.

●       Privacy matters

Your children should be aware that some things are better off unshared. Your address, social security number, bank account details, and other personal information should be off-limits on social media.

Today’s kids are smart and technologically savvy. That doesn’t mean that they don’t need your guidance. Do not leave anything to chance. Talk to your kids about cybersecurity now.



Dhillon Andrew Kannabhiran (@l33tdawg on Twitter) is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Hack in The Box (, organiser of the HITBSecConf series of network security conferences which has been held annually for over a decade in various countries including Malaysia, The Netherlands and the UAE.

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