Cybersecurity Awareness: A Guide for Parents and Children
Helen Setsikas

October is celebrated globally as Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It's a time to educate and engage with people on the importance of protecting their online presence. With the vast amounts of time children and parents spend online, it's crucial to adopt safe online practices.

At Southridge we are committed to keeping our community safe from cyber threats in various ways; by enabling strong passwords, using end-point protection, teaching our staff, faculty, and students on the different types of cyber threats, to ensuring our infrastructure and networks are secure by enforcing a zero-trust approach to our most critical systems. 

At home you can equally be prepared to stay safe and protected by adopting some practical tips or as a refresher, for everyone in your family.

Practical Tips for Parents:

  • Educate Early and Often: Begin discussions about online safety with your children when they first start using devices. Revisit these discussions regularly as they grow older, and their online activities change.
  • Set Boundaries: Use parental controls on devices, browsers, and apps. Limit screen time and ensure kids take breaks from their devices.
  • Be a Role Model: Children often imitate what they see. Practice safe online habits yourself, and your children are more likely to follow suit.
  • Check Privacy Settings: Routinely review and adjust privacy settings on social media platforms and apps. Ensure your children's profiles are set to private.
  • Know Their Online Friends: Just as you'd want to know your child's friends in real life, get to know their online friends. Remind them never to share personal information with strangers.

Practical Tips for Children:

  • Strong Passwords: Teach kids to create strong, unique passwords for every account. Consider using a password manager to keep track.
  • Think Before You Click: Be cautious of clicking on unfamiliar links or downloading attachments, even if they appear to be from friends.
  • Beware of Oversharing: Avoid sharing personal information, such as home addresses, school names, or other personal details on public platforms.
  • Speak Up:  If something feels off or they encounter something uncomfortable online, they should know they can and should talk to a trusted adult.
  • Respect Others: Just as in real life, children should be taught to treat others online with kindness and respect. Cyberbullying is never acceptable.

 The Global Effort

Cybersecurity Awareness Month isn't just about individual safety; it's a global movement. Organizations worldwide host workshops, launch campaigns, and share resources to raise awareness. Take advantage of these resources and ensure that you and your family are doing your part to stay safe online.  I have included some links below to trusted sources that we use at Southridge that I hope will help in your own efforts to by cyber safe:

Get Cyber Safe (Canada)

Common Sense Media

Media Smarts

Take the Get Cyber Safe Checkup

In an increasingly connected world, cybersecurity is everyone's responsibility. By equipping ourselves and our children with knowledge and best practices, we can ensure safer digital experiences. Remember, it's not just about one month – staying cyber-aware is a year-round effort!

Contributed by Helen Setsikas, Director of Information Technology