Game Plan: Keeping Your Family Safe Online

Game Plan: Keeping Your Family Safe Online

By Marian Merritt, Norton Internet Safety Advocate
Wednesday, September 18, 2013 - 10:30am


Huffington Post article I read back in late July asked a poignant question: “Why no Internet safety course for kids and parents?” The author of the article was Tony Loftis, president and executive director of Find Your Missing Child, an organization that aims to use social media to locate missing and runaway children. Loftis equated the lack of Internet safety training to handing car keys to a 16-year-old with almost no driving experience, and it is an apt comparison.

Symantec’s FY13 Corporate Responsibility Report released last week shows that 26 percent of Symantec’s FY13 philanthropic giving was spent on online safety – the second largest category after education (46 percent). From taking care of your social media privacy settings to being aware of potential mobile device risks while out at an event, we are reminded that there are many steps we can take to prevent cybercrime and protect everyone – from budding Internet users to Internet veterans – from the shady characters that we know are lurking out in cyberspace.

While there is no magic spell to guarantee Internet safety (if only “Expecto Patronum” worked on cyber Dementors! Harry Potter, anybody?), Symantec is dedicated to providing the research, software programs and training to help you develop a game plan to keep your family safe online.

Talk first, surf later

When we implement a new rule about technology with our kids, they often stare back and ask: “Why?” Our young ones are growing up in a digital and mobile world, and just as we explain why they should stay alert while walking home from school, we should discuss why it is important to be on alert while engaged with the online world for school and play.

To help start the conversation, Symantec’s Norton Family software can help to encourage your kids to participate in ensuring their own Internet safety. By involving your kids in the rule creation process, you won’t be accused of “spying” on them – and they will be much more likely to follow the rules that they help design. We know from research that kids who have rules end up safer than those without; and kids whose parents engage with them in their online activities have closer offline relationships too. Let them know you’ll be checking in on their browsing/search and social network history and agree to “friend” each other – they might grumble when you set time limits on their computer time, but that’s a battle that even we can’t help you fight.

It’s just Common Sense

While you may talk to your kids at home about online safety, we know that your young ones are spending at least a third of their day somewhere else – at school, where they are increasingly using online resources. In 2013, Symantec created a partnership with Common Sense Media and Cyber Safe Kids to support a digital citizenship initiative, Growing Up Digital, for Australian students and communities. The program provides ongoing, accessible resources to Australian schools, K-12 lesson plans, interactive modules for students and parents and training for teachers. The initiative will not be limited to just Down Under, either – Symantec will help Common Sense Media spread its digital curriculum to schools across the Asia Pacific region.

We also know that stories are powerful tools that can convey important messages in a fun and friendly way – enter iDecide, an interactive online storybook engaging middle school students in topics related to digital literacy. iDecide is an expansion on Symantec’s Digital Passport literacy project, which is tailored for elementary school students, but now middle school students can join the fun.

We believe it is crucial to teach younger generations around the world to be responsible, ethical, safe and respectful online citizens. Find out more about how Symantec is working to keep you and your family safe by taking a look at our Corporate Responsibility Report and website. And then, let us know how you think we're doing by answering a few short survey questions. At the end of the survey, you can vote for a nonprofit project to receive a $50,000 USD grant from Symantec. Let us know where you think it should go!

Marian Merritt is Symantec's Norton Internet Safety Advocate.

Next in this series: Where Are All the Women in Technology? A look at Symantec’s diversity and inclusion initiatives….