With the ever-increasing reliance on technology, both in our lives and our children’s lives, most of us understand the need of fostering good cybersecurity habits. Although when we think about how technology can negatively impact us, staying protected from viruses and malware shouldn’t be our only concern.
There are equally important, more “human” issues that we also need to be thinking about, such as social comparison on social media and its effects on our mental health, how to combat cyberbullying, and stopping children from being exposed to inappropriate online content. If these are topics that perhaps you previously didn’t realize fall under the umbrella of cybersecurity, we invite you to keep on reading.
Social media and mental health
It’s never been easier than now to compare yourself to others — both people you know and the rich and famous. However, when comparing yourself to those on social media, it’s easy to come away feeling inadequate. Here are some tips for avoiding this:
- Remember that social media is not reality. At one time or another, you’ve probably scrolled through your feed and wondered how your friends and celebrities can lead such perfect lives. Everyone is always either relaxing by the beach, having the time of their lives on a night out with friends, talking about the promotion they received at work, showing off their latest expensive gadget, or something equally enviable. It’s important to remember that what others post on social media are carefully curated moments of their lives. The truth is, everyone experiences good times and bad times in life, and measuring yourself up against somebody’s highlights is never a good idea.
- Take control of your feed. Regularly find yourself feeling a particular way every time you come across a specific person’s posts? If it hurts your mental health, even if you are close to the person, you should hide their posts or unfollow them. Instead, fill your feed with things that make you happy — this could be cats, memes, or even cat memes!
- Get sociable. Social media was designed for socializing. However, a lot of us don’t really use it for that. Instead of interacting with others by posting pictures or sharing our thoughts with friends, we mindlessly scroll through our feeds, never actively participating. Several studies have shown that this type of behavior correlates with poorer well-being. So, if you find yourself often being a passive user, try to make an effort to virtually connect with your friends and family more when possible.
Cyberbullying, just like real-life bullying, can have significant psychological effects on a child, and close to one in four 13 to 17-year-olds report experiencing some form of it. If you have a child, proactively stopping cyberbullying should be a top priority. Below are some things you can do to lower the chance of your child becoming a victim:
- Learn about apps and configure their privacy settings. Take some time to learn which apps are popular and which ones your child is using. Download and play around with them yourself so you can stay in the know. Ask your child to see their profile pages. Ensure that the privacy settings on your child’s apps are configured so they can only communicate with their friends and family.
- Encourage an open dialogue. Talk regularly with your child about what they get up to online. Let them know that if they see or experience anything upsetting, inappropriate, or harmful they can discuss it with you.
- Don’t take away their devices. If your child thinks that there is a chance you may take away their devices if they come to you with a problem, they are much less likely to do so.
There is a lot of content on the internet that is unsuitable for children. Keeping them away from it can sometimes be easier said than done. Here are some things you can do to make it less difficult:
- Set up kids’ profiles. Far too many parents aren’t aware of the fact that most devices have built-in parental controls. Once enabled, these parental controls allow you to do things like manage which apps can be downloaded, control which features can be accessed, and set restrictions on screen time. Here’s how to use parental controls on iOS and Android.
- Create accounts of your own. Consider setting up accounts of your own on the apps and websites your child uses so you can keep an eye on the types of content they’re viewing and engaging with.
- Use a full-featured digital wellness tool. An app such as Trend Micro Family will allow you to see which types of content your child is interested in and set rules around what they can access.
In the United States, the majority of parents (66%) who have at least one child under the age of 18 believe that parenting now is harder than it was 20 years ago. This is in no small part thanks to the widespread adoption of technologies such as smartphones and social media, and the very real concerns relating to children’s use of them. Fortunately, Trend Micro is on hand to make things a little easier for parents!
Be sure to check out Trend Micro Family, our superb (and 100% free!) digital wellness app. Trend Micro Family can block age-inappropriate images and videos in real-time, show you the content your child is interested in without making them feel like you’re encroaching on their privacy, optimally configure the privacy settings of their social media profiles, and lots more.
Within the app, you can also access the educational content from the Trend Micro Cyber Academy, which was produced as part of our Internet Safety for Kids & Families initiative. Going through the various worksheets, quizzes, and videos with your child is an interactive and engaging way for them to learn about many important topics related to internet safety and digital citizenship.
New challenges in a digital age
There’s no doubt about it, the challenges that technology presents us nowadays go far beyond conventional cybersecurity matters. However, by being aware of them and developing an understanding of how to deal with them, we can ensure that we’re all able to live happier, healthier, and safer digital lives.