McAfee: So your kids left school. Do you still need to worry about their online safety?

Last week I waved my 18 year old to leave as he embarked on the Australian End of School Rite of Passage – Schoolies !! A week spent moving your heels and living life to the fullest without any parental supervision! Oh, the sleepless nights that many of us have had parents! And once the Christmas and New Years celebrations are over, he’ll be heading to college to “live his best life” away from his devoted cybermother!

And of course, I’m thrilled for him, though secretly devastated to lose my baby boy. But that begs the question, am I now done with cyber parenting? Is my work here officially finished?

Have you ever stopped being a parent?

I remember when my kids were little my mom shared a few words of wisdom with me: “Alex, you never stop being a parent. The kids are the same, it’s just the issues that change. And she was so right. As our boys grew older, we were less involved in their daily needs, but we still need them very much. Whether it’s helping revise an employment contract, giving advice on an issue with a roommate, or helping pick out a costume, parenting hasn’t stopped instead entering a new chapter. And of course, there’s no doubt that having interested and dedicated parents on the phone – day or night – makes navigating life much easier!

And when it comes to their digital life, it’s the same story. While we have no reason to get involved in their daily lives online, we have certainly been called upon to help them with situations such as receiving inappropriate messages, identifying potential scams, or dealing with laconic exchanges. And, may I add, I have also proactively offered my advice on the relevance of the photos they shared online – on multiple occasions !!

How to help your young adults manage their cybersecurity?

So after managing 3 kids through this transition to adulthood with another one currently underway, I thought I’d share with you some of my best strategies for ensuring their digital lives are in good shape without micromanaging them. !

1. Stay friends with them online but never embarrass them

Every few days I will be checking my boys’ social networks. Not only does it give me a “feel” of what’s going on in their life – where they’ve been and with whom – it also allows me to check that they’re making good decisions about what they share. There have been several times during this time that I sent a quick text suggesting to delete a photo or maybe rephrase a comment! And although I know that these texts are not always warmly received, in almost all cases, they follow my advice!

And it goes without saying that your ability to contribute to their digital lives will only happen if you don’t cross borders! So never embarrass them. If you see something you don’t like, send them a private message – don’t workshop it on their Facebook page! And if you want to post a photo or video of them, always get their ‘ok’ first.

2. Buy them security software for Christmas!

Okay, security software probably won’t be at the top of their Christmas list, but knowing that they have full security software like Total protection from McAfeeon their devices, which works hard in the background to minimize threats and issues, will give you real peace of mind. This year I’m buying my older boys an air fryer and frying pans for Christmas. Why not continue the pragmatic theme and invest in software for them too?

3. Configure a family messaging group

About 4 years ago I started a family Messenger group and now it’s something that I absolutely treasure. We’re sharing photos of our cats and dogs, potential family vacation dates, fun photos and videos, and relevant news – especially during COVID. But the other thing I like to share are reminders on the important “tech stuff” like changing passwords, when to update their Apple software, or details of scams going around. Whether it be What is the application, Telegram,or my favorite, Messenger, I highly recommend establishing a family group discussion as an effective way to cover key issues with your young adult children.

4. Don’t stop talking about digital reputation

With potential employers, partners, and even friends using Google to do their due diligence on you, digital reputation is paramount. So, incorporating constant reminders into conversations with your adult children should always be a priority. Now, of course, some children will understand instinctively, but others will need some guidance. According to a70% of employers use social media to screen candidates during the hiring process, and around 43% of employers use social media to verify current employees.So why not encourage them to “Google” themselves – and why not do it yourself? The way you present online could be the difference between being employed or being unemployed!

So, if you have a bachelor’s degree in your family and you are not sure your job is finished, I am here to confirm that you will still be required for a very long time! Whether they know it or not, our grown children will continue to need a little of our wisdom and experience for years to come. And while they may have fled the nest, remember that you will always be one of their most influential role models. So also make sure your digital life is doing well, because as American novelist James Baldwin shares: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to emulate them. “

Until next time

Take care


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