Today is Safer Internet Day, and IBM is rallying around the globe to help inform students and teachers about how to safely manage their presence online. As an IBM employee, I frequently get requests from friends asking me how to put controls on their computers for their kids. Although I am not personally an expert on security, I wanted to share the tools that IBM has released in conjunction with Safer Internet Day. These tools for Internet safety and controlling one’s identity online can help anyone understand what it means to be digitally responsible.
I am a parent of two children, and their easy access to the Internet scares me. To pass the time in long lines at the supermarket, I will hand my daughter my iPhone so she can play on it or surf the Internet. My two-year-old already knows how to use her pointer finger to “turn pages” online to read an ebook. While I want my children to be digitally savvy, I also know that it is essential for them to learn to be digitally responsible. Teaching digital responsibility to my young children is a key part of my responsibility as a parent.
By the time kids reach middle school, they’re likely to know as much or more about the Internet as their parents. Children use the Internet for schoolwork, to play games, to send email and instant messages, for downloading music, for shopping, and for entering contests. Although they know their way around the web, they may lack the judgment and emotional maturity to steer clear of trouble.
It is everyone’s role to understand the ramifications of their actions online. Parents should make use of IBM’s guides on Cyberbullying, Internet Safety Coaching, and Controlling Your Online Identity as a starting point to learn more about protecting their children (and themselves) online.
Please check out this post from IBM’s Security Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer discussing how your “individual actions can make the difference to protect your reputation, your physical safety, your financial information, and the integrity and safety of the digital devices and networks that you may use and that our society relies upon.”
Lisa Lanspery is Manager of Corporate Communications at IBM, and the mother of two young children.