Educational program for parents: how to protect children from danger on the Internet

This post is designed for non-specialists in the field of IT and information security, and is dedicated to the upcoming Children’s Day. We asked information security expert Alexei Drozd (aka @labyrinth) to write an article for parents about the dangers that children face on the network and how to protect their parents when the Internet has become an integral part of life. Word to Alexei.

Your questions lack parental responsibility. Alas, often parents themselves are the cause of the troubles of their children, uncontrollably exposing their life on social networks.

But let’s take it in order. Under katom in an accessible language talks about the threats to which children are exposed on the Web. The consequences are described. Examples are given. And of course, practical advice is given – how to defend yourself, not run up and warn.


Internet is the street

The world has changed. I feel it in the earth, I feel it in the water. And I feel it on the web. On the Internet there are almost all the entertainments and “development” that a child may need in the real world: puzzles, cartoons, puzzles, songs, communication. To give a gadget into the hands of a child is for many equivalent to buying peace and quiet. The parent knows: for the next 30 minutes, the child will be next to the tablet or smartphone.

But just mindlessly letting children into the network without any restrictions is definitely not worth it. You can draw an analogy with the street. First, the child walks only under your supervision. Then, over time, you begin to leave him alone. At the same time, you explain the most important rules: do not talk with strangers, do not leave the yard, be in sight, etc. It would never occur to anyone to drop a three-year-old child in the middle of the city and wait for him to figure out how to get home.

But this is exactly what the situation looks like if you give him a gadget with “unlimited” Internet. The younger generation should take the first steps on the Web under your leadership. And if after reading up to this place you think that you have solved the problem – after all, there is a “children’s regime”, “white lists” and other protective equipment – do not rush. Before restricting a child to the Internet, let’s limit you.

How a parent can ruin a child’s life

A little more than a year ago, an article appeared on Habré “When children understand that their whole life is already online”, which touches on an important contemporary problem. It turned out that as children grow up, they are surprised (and some with horror) to learn that for years parents have been posting their photos, personal stories and simply various aspects of life in public access.

Not only mom bloggers are engaged in creating the online identity of their children. This is done by many average parents. In almost a quarter of children, digital life today begins with their parents sharing an ultrasound image on the Internet, according to a study by AVG, an Internet security company. It was also found that 92% of infants under two years of age already have their own digital identity.

Do you think a teenager will be delighted to find, for example, such a photo in the public domain?


Remember to also take into account the fact that “degree of disaster” depends on age. What does not seem important to you, a 14-year-old can perceive as a matter of life and death. And also expressively respond.

But even if you think that you are not posting “nothing of the kind” about your child to the Network, be aware that the Internet remembers everything! Having posted something on the Network (not necessarily in public access), you accept the risk that you can no longer control this information. The posted photo can be “re-saved”, “screened” or simply share the link, but someone else will save it. Where then your information will pop up, and whether it will pop up is unknown.

The Internet has really erased the limitations of communication both technologically and economically. Just 30 years ago, our communication was limited by territory and financial capabilities. If you had money, you could make new contacts either by going somewhere or by calling. Existing restrictions limited not only “positive” contacts, but also “negative” ones. How often did you meet trolls, mentally unhealthy personalities, blackmailers and other villains in the real world about 30 years ago? The Internet has made it possible to expand the circle of communication not only for you, but also for them. And that can be a problem.

The most unpleasant thing is that there are enough examples both in the darknet and in the white segment of the Network. I offhand found a dozen resources where someone collects photos of children – as they call them “legal” photos, breaking down the pictures into categories.

Judging by the activity, in March 271 posts were posted on the resource – we ourselves are willing to give photos of our children to such “collectors”. “But how so? Where is the police looking ?! Urgent close! ”, An inner voice tells you. If everything were so simple: “technically” such resources do not violate the law. Similar sites periodically cease to exist. And open again.

So what to do? Weigh risksdear parents, when you decide to share another personal story, photograph, etc. with the world And even more so – to note the geolocation of home photography.

The dangers that the child finds himself

It is time to talk about the threats and consequences. The worst thought you can hold is “It’s not about me”. This is not about you and your child exactly until this happens. But then it may be too late. I illustrate.

“Crooked mirror” of social networks

Social media users cultivate embellished images of people. It is worth going to Instagram, Facebook, etc. and make sure that successful travelers, businessmen, beauty bloggers and other extremely cool characters are visible at every step. If the rules of the game are not explained to the child, he will sincerely believe that it really is.

And besides success in social networks, another dangerous thought passes through the red ribbon: you EASY can be like that too. Well, what is difficult to remove a “cool” vidos? Especially when even the state sees this as a benefit and allocates substantial funds to TikTok’a school. Honestly, I don’t know what exactly they can teach, for example, a 12-year-old in such a school. But it is unlikely that these will be courses in screenwriting, acting, cinematography and directing. Rather, I believe that they will say something like: “Take off crazy, take off game! Crazy and the game virus well. “

As one of the outcome, fresh example: in Kobrin, two friends (16 and 17 years old) climbed onto the roof of a five-story building to take a selfie. Standing on the edge, the girls took joint photos. At some point, the 16-year-old slipped and fell from the roof. Now in hospital in serious condition.

The problem is that the desire to “be popular” may turn into the desire to “be popular” at any cost“. But this is unlikely to end well.

Bullying, blackmail, suicide

Children can “hound” at school for anything. In general, there is no systematization here. Bullying is compounded by social networks and messengers when a child after school does not receive a break for the psyche, because bullying from the real world flows to the Internet. Try yourself to be under hard pressure almost all the time that you do not sleep. How long can you stand it? Now imagine what a child might be who is shy for some reason or does not want to ask parents for advice.

Curiosity. At some stage of growing up, everything that is dangerous can automatically be considered cool. It was once cool to have the Anarchist Cookbook or The Faces of Death. But not so long ago, it was “fashionable” to test your nerves in the game “Blue Whale”. “Wake me up at 4:20” and that’s it. Do you remember? Out of curiosity, children themselves can plunge into something, and then because of their sensitivity and fear not tell about the problems that have come up.

Incorrectly assessed risks of dissemination of information sent. Ignorance of how technology works leads to an incorrect risk assessment. For example, users of the Whisper app apparently sincerely believed that their secrets were anonymous. However in 2020 it turned outthat the company for years unintentionally disclosed user data such as age, ethnicity, place of residence, location, nickname in the application and membership in any groups.

But there are more serious cases. In 2018, there was a resource where a group of people collected photos of girls, the resource took only photos where it was possible to establish an owner. Further, “enthusiasts” compared the leaked photo with the profile of VKontakte, forming a “set”. The final step was a massive foray into the bullying page. The resource, fortunately, is closed, but the threat, of course, has not disappeared.

Explain to the children and remember for yourself that the presence of some “sensitive information” on the Web can be used for blackmail, fraud and simply bullying.

How to protect a child

If you think that there is a “silver bullet”, then the time has come for disappointment. There is no universal method. But there are some tips that work. I will arrange them not according to the effectiveness, but as the child grows up.

Children’s modes

It all starts with them. This is the time when the child is so small that it does not have its own personal gadget. From time to time, the child “falls over” the parent device on which the “Child mode” is activated. This is a special program from which he cannot exit himself. The parent can configure which applications the user will have access to, how much time you can play, etc.

At the right age and with the right settings on the part of the parents, children’s modes are quite effective. But there are nuances. If you just give your child access to the browser, then there’s no sense in the “child mode”. Well, then we will give access to the “children’s browser”. Or “children’s YouTube” (there is one too). Such applications are “good” due to moderation of content. That is, somewhere there in some company a censor sits and decides what children can watch and what not. I hope you understand that where there is a person, there is a place for human errors. Therefore, rely on the children’s mode, but with absolutely no control over what the child does on the network – do not leave it.

White lists, children’s Internet
Many companies sell the service with the word “children”. The principle is similar to white lists: you can only go to those sites and run only those programs that are allowed. Allowed by either the parent himself or the “censor” by the company. The approach is quite working. The child gets access not just to the “white”, but to the “whitest” Internet.

But the problem of whitelisting is exactly the same as that of the “children’s regimes.” A child can accidentally or intentionally break into the “real” Network. A lot of ways and children will master them much faster than you.

Remember – children are curious, and if they are interested in something, they will find it. If the parent did not enable “safe search”, then you do not even need to know the names of the sites. Does not find a search engine – we search in social networks. And you can begin to master VPN and proxy. And if the child sees that you are forbidden to be interested in this, then this is definitely interesting. The effect of one Barbara, you know. And how often do parents react to this?

No internet!

The reaction is natural, but deadlocked. I don’t even know what else to write. With today’s level of accessibility and penetration of technology, I can’t imagine how you can effectively “disconnect” a child from the Web. Computers are at school, friends have smartphones.


But it works. Exactly until you reveal yourself, or the child himself will not guess about control. For example, you can look at the history in the browser. Or install the appropriate program. Or give special “children’s watches”. The market offers a lot of ways for every taste. But are you ready for the consequences? At that moment, when the surveillance will open, you risk losing the trust of the child forever. Therefore, either have a plan in place to resolve the conflict, or be so skilled as not to get caught.

Enlightenment and Soft Power

In my opinion, this is the most effective way. He is also the most difficult. It is important to keep a balance. You can forbid your child everything – and run into active opposition. You can be as open as possible, but at a certain age, a teenager may just be uncomfortable discussing these topics with you.

And here comes the soft power. When you are discussing with your child – why is it possible, why is it impossible, what is the threat of lack of control. And also let him figure out the issues that he does not want to discuss with you. We do not have many practical child safety projects, but there are examples:“>, where you can select content for children, adolescents and adults; or – where Fixies will tell the child about safety. Here is another resource with good content –

In general, do not hesitate to learn behavior on the Web yourself, if you do not know something. Talk with your children. Silence, although gold, but not in this case.

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