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Online security is a serious concern for modern parents, as being protected from the various threats that exist today is important for every member of the family unit.

So what are the risks that exist with using web-enabled devices and services, and how can parents take a proactive approach to keeping their kids and themselves safe?

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Sharing sensitive personal data is a bad idea

There are so many ways to communicate online, from instant messaging apps to social media platforms and even live streaming, but in all of these contexts, you have to remember that you are essentially contributing to a public forum. That means you should not share any information that you would otherwise want to remain private.

This obviously applies to things like bank account details, your home address and your contact number. Any personal data can be exploited by malicious third parties for the purposes of identity theft and fraud. The same goes for login details for your online accounts; keep your usernames and passwords close to your chest.

If you are unsure about how best to use the communications services that are available to you and your family, attending cyber security courses on the subject will be helpful and allow you to avoid common mistakes.

Openness is essential

You can choose to lock down your home computer and other connected devices using software or impose strict limits on where and when your children have access to the web. But whatever way you decide to manage the way your kids engage with the online ecosystem, it is important to let them know that they can talk to you about their experiences there, rather than creating an atmosphere that might compel them to keep quiet if they stumble across something potentially problematic.

While kids might be more tech-literate than their parents, they rarely have the world experience to contextualize or understand certain things they might encounter when searching on Google, watching videos on YouTube or checking out their favorite streamer on Twitch. If they know that they can come to you if they have queries or concerns, you will be in a much better position to help them stay safe.

Security software can help

Even if you are relatively well versed in the world of web use, there is still a high likelihood that your device might be exposed to dangerous code when browsing and using services. That is why it is still necessary to ensure that you are shielded by the right software solutions.

All major operating systems, including Windows on standard PCs and Android on mobile devices, come with baked-in security software, meaning you can monitor for viruses and malware without having to spend any extra cash. You simply need to make sure that these features are enabled and that you keep your OS up to date so that the latest protections can be applied to stop the ever-evolving threats.

You can also choose to invest in premium antivirus programs from well-known providers like Norton, AVG, and Avast. Each solution has its pros and cons, and there is no way to guarantee protection using software alone, but making sure you have some defences in place is better than having nothing at all.

Educate yourself and others

The best way to combat the security issues that can arise when using the web is to keep up to date with the latest threats as they emerge, as well as staying in touch with the kinds of sites, apps and services that your kids might be using. There are thousands of platforms aimed specifically at youngsters that adults might not even know about until some problem rears its head.

You also need to make sure that the other people in your household are up to speed with these developments and have an appreciation for what it takes to stay safe online while still being able to use the internet effectively.