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Parents reminded of need for youngsters' cyber security

The school winter vacation is in full swing, while parents are returning to work. While parents may think that their children are safe at home, time spent alone on the Internet, can bring dangers of its own, reports Latvian Television.

Maija Katkovska, head of Latvia's Safer Internet Center, stated: "Unfortunately, some parents still think that their children are safe at home. They do not suspect that children often sit on the Internet for 8 or 10 hours while they are alone at home, and this does not necessarily mean that they are safe."

Experts invite parents and other carers to discuss and remind minors about safety rules, dos and don'ts, and agree on how much time can be spent in the virtual world.

Katkovska said: "It is definitely necessary to discuss provacy with children – what the child can put on their social media accounts and what they cannot. It is clear that the child must not undress in front of the camera and put it on the Internet. Do not send any nude photos to anyone, tell anyone where they live, what their parents do, show where they live."

The same goes for chats on gaming platforms.

Gints Mālkalnietis, cyber security expert of the national IT security incident prevention institution CERT.lv, noted: "You have to understand that if someone you don't know on the Internet just says, install this and it will be fine, then you have to be careful. Not all people on the Internet, who are talking to you, are really acting in your best interests. Very often they want your money, assets or passwords."

Passwords must always be secure, reminded Mālkalnietis: "I assume that children will have received new devices for Christmas when the holidays begin. You must remember that if you set up this device, you choose to protect your profiles with good and secure passwords... there's no reason to choose some very insecure or easy-to-guess password."

Parents can take care in advance to prevent children from accessing unwanted content.

Katkowska pointed out: "Turn on Google's 'Safe Search', so that if a child searches for some keywords for content that might not be suitable for him, the full results will not appear. It is also possible to set restricted mode on YouTube."

Mālkalnietis added: "If you have smaller children, if the parents want to keep an eye on them, there are programs such as 'Google Family Link' that allow you to keep an eye on the phone, as well as approve or deny the installation of certain programs on smart devices."

If one computer is used in the family, then each family member must create their own profile. The child should not be given administrator rights, because otherwise they will be able to download and install all kinds of programs on the computer. Everyone is invited to install the free DNS firewall developed by CERT.lv on both smart devices and computers, which will block access to the most current harmful websites.

Experts remind that prevention and teaching safety principles will take less time than prevention of consequences if something happens to a child in the Internet environment. 

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