A Missouri-based cyber-crime prevention network is advising parents to start teaching their children about cyber security from the time the kids are toddlers.
Savvycyberkids.org says children are beginning to use technology at an increasingly younger age, so experts say privacy, bullying protection and online safety should be taught along with the ABCs and 1-2-3s. However, cyber safety education is currently focused on elementary to high school students.
By toddler age, children are able to begin to navigate through their parent’s phone or tablet device, and by the age of 8-18, kids spend on average 44.5 hours per week in front of screens, according to a study conducted by Harris Interactive.
The same study found nearly 23 percent of youth report that they feel “addicted to video games” (31 percent of males, 13 percent of females.)
That’s why the savvycyberkids.org organization says it’s important for kids to be taught before the age of 5 who is safe to talk to and what information shouldn’t be given out.
Retired Prairie Village FBI agent Jeff Lanza worked on cyber-crimes cases for more than 20 years.
He says times have changed and parents’ lessons need to begin earlier.
“Just a few years ago, we had the option of keeping the computer in the home in a public place where we can watch over what a child is doing. But now they can take an iPad or another device into a room and the parents don’t have as much oversight, and that means education is more important and so are parental controls on the device itself,” he said.
Lanza recommends using search engines designed for kids only, putting restrictions on your phone and tablet and password locking any content of adult nature.
An early discussion with your child, Lanza says, also opens the door for cyber bullying talks down the line.