Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Aug. 12, 2015

The Importance of Understanding Online Vulnerabilities

President and CEO, ALLvanza

How can parents help their children be wise stewards of the technology in the Internet age? Get involved.

How can organizations enact programs that will reach the Latino Community on this topic? Understand the community and the barriers they face.

The Hispanic Technology and Telecommunications Partnership (HTTP) advocates on behalf of the Latino community for increased access to, and adoption of, the technological tools that allow users to take advantage of the many benefits they offer and the telecommunications infrastructure that brings these tools together. Some of the benefits that come with increased access to technology are greater ability to find and apply for jobs and access to educational materials for children and adults alike, just to name a couple. 

If access and adoption continue to grow within the Latino community, it is crucially important that programs providing training and other educational resources for parents take into account the challenges that Latino families face.

While HTTP advocates for increased access, we also recognize a need for responsible use of technology. There are countless risks associated with living in a connected world and it is imperative to understand them in order to protect family members, both young and old, from these risks.

Be Wise Stewards of Technology

It is important to understand online vulnerabilities that many face when accessing the Internet for the first time or without proper training and awareness. It is a known fact that Americans are, more than ever, experiencing the pains of online scams in the form of hackers, phishing, and malware, for example, and it is important to help people be wise stewards of technology in their everyday lives. These scams can allow hackers, and others with bad intentions, to do many harmful things including:

  • Obtain your personal information (social security number, date of birth, address, etc.)

  • Obtain your financial information (bank account information, for example)

  • Upload viruses onto your devices

  • Take control of your online identity on social media sites and possibly harm your online reputation (imagine a school principle’s Facebook page in the hands of an irresponsible student or a judge’s profile in the hands of a criminal).

Continue to Learn and Get Involved

The best way for parents to help their children become wise stewards of technology within the Internet age is to get involved. It is vital for parents to learn about the many vulnerabilities that come with increased access and to learn about the various apps, devices, and websites that their children regularly use

Another vital component is to be proactive and continue to learn. New apps and social networks emerge seemingly daily. It is not enough to learn about a social network at one point in time. Even a site as commonly used and ubiquitous as Facebook routinely changes its layout, security settings, terms of use, and privacy policy.

Some parents might find keeping track of websites, apps, and phone functionality exhausting, and that would be understandable. But many Latino parents face additional layers of complexity on top of the sheer volume of sites and evolving vulnerabilities that can make it nearly unmanageable. These layers are a possible language barrier, lack of time, as well as a lack of sustained formal education.  

Providing Resources to the Latino Community

In many Latino families the children tend to translate for their parents and guide them through systems with which they may not be familiar (school system, television, computer, etc.). In addition, in many instances, Latinos parents have more than one job each and have very little time to research and analyze online threats and possible ways to mitigate these threats. Lastly, without sustained formal education, which is the case for many Latino parents, it is difficult for them to protect their children from complex ever-evolving threats and vulnerabilities.

If access and adoption continue to grow within the Latino community, it is crucially important that programs providing training and other educational resources for parents take into account the challenges that Latino families face. As Latinos are the fastest growing segment of the youth, we would be remiss to not ensure that their parents have the proper tools, in their native language, to protect their children. 

In addition, due to a need to quickly consume and internalize the information, we also must acknowledge the need for quick reference guides or cheat sheets with pertinent information for all parents and particularly ensure these resources are available in both English and Spanish. Lastly, we must ensure that these resources are presented in a way for all, regardless of the educational level, to understand.

Image curtsy of Flickr.