Back in my day – not quite when you had to walk to school barefoot – but in the pre internet days; we contacted our friends by calling to their door or using the circular dial house phone that was wired to the wall (but not without asking parental permission first!).

Back then if I took a photograph on my camera, I had to wait a week for the film to be developed before I could see the end result.  I remember the anticipation of waiting in line to collect the snaps at the counter – usually to be bitterly disappointed due to my inadequate camera skills.

Today our children and teenagers live in a very different world.  When they go to their room to do homework or to sleep, they take all of their friends, enemies and lesser known acquaintances with them.   These people are constantly in their lives by way of Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, WhatsApp and Viber amongst others.  The regular “ping” of a notification consistently interrupts all of our lives.

The culture of approval and more worryingly, disapproval is hugely prevalent.  There are different apps for different purposes, each coming with their own set of unspoken rules.  Some apps allow anonymity which can make for a terrifying world where cyber bullying occurs with potentially tragic consequences.

Privacy seems to be a thing of the past.  Some like to post video-logs of everything and anything that is going on in their lives, and without implementing security settings.  These videos are available publicly for all to see, yet none of these teens would consider walking up to a stranger on the street and sharing a detailed description of their day’s activities.

Not many of us were angels as teenagers but at least nobody was there to whip out a video camera at every opportunity.  We had the experiences, but left no evidence!   Nowadays everything is recorded and shared without any consideration of consequence.

What we must understand is that this is the world they were born into; they don’t have a ‘before and after’ perspective; they don’t know any different: so telling them it’s bad for them is equivalent to my parents telling me that my eyes would turn square from watching too much TV.

As a mother of a 15 yr old girl and an almost 13 yr old boy, I have come to the realisation that there is no point in trying to enforce very strict rules in relation to social media usage as that is a battle I will not win. I would rather lose the battle and hope to win the war by trying to make them aware of the possible dangers and the consequences of posting anything online, encourage them to respect their own privacy, give them advice, trust them, hope that they will make sensible decisions and be there to support them if they don’t.

There are a number of sensible precautions and technical restrictions that can be put in place to help us to protect our children from some of the dangers of the online world.   Installing content-filtering software, intelligent firewalls, or using family friendly routers will help provide a shield around your kid’s internet usage.  If children are using iPhones, iCloud Family Sharing is also a helpful tool to keep things age-appropriate.

In a business environment, some organisations’ response to data security and privacy is to lock everything down very tightly.  Other organisations may have implemented a BYOD policy (Bring Your Own Device) but are now struggling to apply suitable IT security systems and protect company information on those personal devices.

Aspira has many years of expertise in this area, with industry-leading offerings that include Anti Virus, Anti Spam, Anti Malware and Mobile Device Management, all of which are there to help protect our customers’ systems on a daily basis.  Unlike our teenage years, we’ve got both the experience, and the evidence to prove it!

Author: Tracy Jones, Purchasing Manager, IT Services, Aspira.

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