vulnerable to cybercriminals
© Evgeniia Kuzmich |

Parents often forget about the devices their kids take to school – the increasing number of which is making more children vulnerable to cybercriminals, here Kaspersky recommends tips to help ensure children are kept safe

The number of devices children have access to continues to increase. Research shows that 42% of five to seven-year-olds now own a tablet, up 7% from the previous year. In addition, more than nine in ten (92%) children aged between five and 15 go online using any type of device, which increases to 99% of 12-15s.

Around six in ten five to 15-year-old use a tablet or a laptop or to go online, while half use a mobile phone.

Children also have access to a plethora of connected devices – toys, smartwatches, fit-bits and more – and most bring them through the school gates. This is posing a worrying trend – as the more devices young people use to connect to the internet, the more the threat vector grows.

From Momo challenges to Fortnite scams, the younger internet users potentially face countless threats: but worryingly, most parents don’t realise how much time their children are spending online. Kaspersky research shows that the average child spends 40 minutes per day watching online video content on a mobile device, whilst 87% of parents don’t restrict how much time their young children spend online.

Compounding this is the lack of security on these devices: 49% of guardians have never reviewed the default settings on a device to prevent their child viewing inappropriate material, whilst only 13% install online security solutions onto their youngers’ smartphone, laptop or tablet.

This growing number of devices also increases the chances of school and home networks being compromised, too, as in most cases, these devices will be connected to domestic networks.

“While younger children are becoming more tech-savvy, they are not protection-savvy by nature and lack the understanding to know about the dangers that being online can present. With reports of even toys being used to spy on children, and children as young as three-years-old owning social media accounts, it is clear the dangers are real – for homes and schools as well as children,” said David Emm, principal security researcher at Kaspersky.

Whilst the government and schools are increasingly teaching children how to spot potential dangers online, there remains a lack of awareness around basic device protection. This means parents need to take greater responsibility to ensure their children are cyber-secure for the start of the academic year.

“This year’s back to school period will probably see an increase in connected devices in classrooms, and adults need to play their role in ensuring children’s safety is maintained,” adds Emm.

Kaspersky recommends the following tips:

  1. Supervise – This may seem obvious, but monitor your child’s internet use. Encourage them to visit, and stay on, websites you’re familiar with. Be sure to know about any password-protected sites they may be accessing, and ask them to share their login details with you.
  2. Be open – Encourage your child to be open about what they are doing online and who they are socialising with. Promote a culture of safety within the home and talk about the possible dangers which exist.
  3. Protect your family – Use parental controls to block access to sites you don’t want your child looking at as part of your online security product – it’s an easy way to avoid disaster. Review the default settings on each app that your child uses to ensure that the camera or microphone, for example, aren’t needlessly turned on as these can pose a threat.


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