For Children's Day, IT company CROC has launched a media project dedicated to Internet security for schoolkids called "Kids&Nets”.  The company carried out a survey on children’s Internet behavior and listed related risks and opportunities. The project also features a test for parents on certain types of online behavior by minors that need special attention, as well as a podcast on Progoolka to help schoolkids recognize cybercriminals.

The surveyed children and parents shared their attitudes towards the Internet and named gadget-related risks and opportunities. The project also involved information security experts at CROC, family psychologists, teachers and bloggers, who shared insights into how modern children can fully benefit from the Internet and avoid related risks.

While there are many surveys on the Internet behavior of kids and teenagers, most of them only provide figures and statistics. We decided to conduct qualitative research and then create a media project that will help parents and children figure out Internet risks and gadget-related opportunities. Also, thanks to insights from various experts, we provided information on how to maximize the benefits of digital technologies. We identified five key trends regarding online behavior among children and six advantages of Internet usage, as well as seven risks and effective ways to avoid them.  Furthermore, we also developed an educational test to help parents learn more about Internet behavior among teenagers, and an educational podcast for kids.

Elena Volkovskaya
Chief Strategic Marketing Officer, CROC

Ilya Kolmanovsky, PhD in Biology, science journalist, "Naked Mole-rat" podcast speaker, suggests that parents should open up new horizons for their children, and that gadgets can thus serve as wonderful educational tools. The most important skill children can acquire in the digital environment is to learn something new from computers, learn to speak their language and make the right queries.  Children and teenagers can benefit easily from such technology as they are more adaptive and quick-minded than adults.

Many parents try to limit the time that their children spend on the Internet and different gadgets. Popular methods include dynamic passwords, usage schedules and even special devices that terminate a computer session after a certain amount of time. Psychologist Ekaterina Murashova supports the idea that parents have always had a responsibility to restrict certain behaviors, with Internet usage being no different.

However, some experts believe that this restrictive approach is outdated for modern kids. Natalia Sidorina, PhD in Pedagogy and author of "Security Code" methodology, suggests that child security can be controlled only via the use of a more mindful approach. Information security psychology is not based on eliminating content, but making it less interesting or substituting it with something more useful.

The first set of risks parents are most concerned about includes inappropriate content, fake and misleading news, cyberbullying, and information fatigue syndrome.  Larisa Surkova, psychologist, well-known blogger and a mother of five, claims that it is necessary to pay attention to what your kids are interested in, discuss subjects that attract them on the net, and view such content together to prevent them from being influenced by harmful content and cyberbullying.  It is crucial to keep an eye on children and monitor any changes in their behavior.  If parents know what their kids do on the Internet, they will be more capable of intervening quickly if necessary.

The second set of risks includes personal data leakage and loss of money on the Internet.  Kids and teenagers often don't think about what kind of information they share on the net and who can obtain it. Cybercriminals also create phishing websites or fake friend profiles on social media to try and obtain bank details.  In addition, more and more children are interested in video games and thus at risk of accidentally paying for something online or donating to their favorite streamers.

Andrey Zaikin, Head of CROC’s Information Security Practice, recommends setting up a whitelist on gadgets that only allows children to access certain websites and thus helps avoid cybercriminals.  It is also crucial to explain to kids that they should only provide bank details on reliable websites, and be careful about what they share on social networks and messengers. Furthermore, they should know not to install suspicious apps on their smartphones, and be aware of the danger of links received via messages or different communities.

Bank cards for children can help control spending by connecting to a mobile banking app that allows parents to check purchasing history and set spending limits. However, it is also important to allow kids to manage their funds on their own and let them decide if they want to spend their allowance all at once or gradually throughout the month so that they can learn financial literacy and how to carefully handle money.

A full version of the survey will be available on CROC's website on June 1.

The test for parents on Internet threats will also be published on the "Snob" website on June 1.

Progoolka audio theater podcast on Internet security