If someone told you ten years ago that your teenager was going to take a video camera to the bathroom with him, what would you say? I know what I would say and I not I can repeat it here.
But now it’s business as usual. Does that make him less dangerous?
We could make «then and now» comparisons all day long, and yet some will sit there and justify everything with some version: «But times have changed.» Of course times have changed. This is the nature of time.
But have people really changed? Are those perverts and criminals still out there? Yes, yes, they are. And they know how to use this technology too. This can make mixing kids and technology a scary thing. Stay tuned until the end to see perhaps the scariest thing about how the Internet of Things (IoT) can harm your kids.
But let’s not be completely alarmist. The point of this is to make you aware of the potential problems so you can make an informed choice. By learning about this, by asking tough questions to retailers and manufacturers, and by pressuring our politicians to improve privacy laws, Everything will be alright. Or should I say that the Internet of Things will get better?
Webcams and kids
Since the advent of the webcam, there have been privacy concerns. How do you know if it’s really off? How do you know if someone walks in and spies on my kids? The truth is, you probably don’t.
Someone can fool your kids by downloading remote administration tools. (rats). They’re kind of like VNC or TeamViewer ; you just don’t know what it is. Whoever tricks your child into downloading the RAT may also turn off that LED that should tell them if the webcam is on. Terrible things.
Sometimes the invasion of privacy can be accidental. Consider the Lower Merion spycam scandal. The crux of the story is that the school district loaned laptops to the kids. The laptops had security software installed that activated the webcam. As a result, the school district accidentally received about 30,000 webcam images and about 27,000 screenshots. District officials said they had no idea this could happen and blamed their IT staff. Is ignorance really a defense?
Sounds so scary. However, there are simple things you can do to prevent this.
The first thing you can do is determine if your kids really need a device with a camera. Most likely they don’t. But if you and your kids think the camera is okay, talk about how to use the camera for good and for evil. Knowing both sides of the situation, they are better able to respect technology.
Teach them that there are only a few people to use the webcam with. People like grandparents, you and your spouse, maybe some friends who moved away. You could make a specific list. If they want to chat with close friends, this might be a good opportunity for them to go outside and see their friends.
Carefully read Joel Lee’s article, Hack Attack: How to Protect Your Webcam from Online Peeping Hacks Pay close attention to the simple step of turning off your webcam or covering it with duct tape. You can also get trendy reusable stickers specially made for webcams. They seem cute and reusable.
Internet of toys
The video game is no longer the only force in the digital game. Classics like Barbie went online and may have gone rogue. Have you heard about the security researcher Matt Yakubowski found a flaw in Hello Barbie’s IoT toy that could indicate the doll’s owner’s home address?
Matt says the hackers can «replace their servers and make her (Barbie) say whatever we want.» Is this the worst possible outcome? Probably no. Perhaps listening to what Barbie has already programmed might be more harmful. She doesn’t seem to be very good at gender equality.
However, there are things you can do to teach your daughters to think for themselves, especially in this online world. For laughs, this is also a warning, check out this video where Hello Barbie talks about feminism.
You may have heard about it in the following. VTech, a manufacturer of many different tech toys, is making a tablet device aimed at audiences under 10 years old. It has its own app store known as Learning Lodge. Last year, a British man was arrested for hacking into the back end of the Learning Lodge and stealing data on 6 million children and parents.
According to a VTech press release, this included parents: «…names, email addresses, security questions and answers for passwords, IP addresses, and download histories.» VTech also said that the hacked database contains: «…information about the children, including names, gender and dates of birth.»
Do you know what an evil person can do with this information? John Sileo, author of Stolen Lives: Preventing Identity Theft Made Easy, says «…the most dangerous piece of information you can give is your date of birth.» He further says: Date of Birth along with name and hometown can be used in a formula to recreate your social security information.»
Another children’s classic, Hello Kitty, has leaked information about its 3.3 million fans. This happened when the Hello Kitty fan site, SanrioTown.com, accessed their database in late 2015. Here’s the catch — it wasn’t hacked. According to security researcher Chris Vickery of Kromtech, there is no need to hack. Vickery stated that almost anyone can access: «…first and last name, birthday…, gender, country of origin, email addresses, unsalted SHA-1 password hashes, password hint questions, matched answers…» etc. .
Think about it. What could you do if you knew the answers to someone else’s password hints? Many of these questions are: “What was the name of your first pet?” “What was the name of your elementary school?” Or «Who was your favorite teacher?» Many sites use the same questions. You can see how bad it can be.
How do you protect your children from this? Be involved. It is so simple. Take the time to learn about their world and their new high tech toys. You could help them ride a bike because you knew the fun and dangers of cycling. It’s no different. Teach them good security behavior when they are online. recipe for success Do use parental controls on computers and tablets parental controls and tablets parental controls and tablets Be there when they play with these things. Keep them away from things they’re just not ready for yet.
The worst threat from the Internet of Things to our children
The worst threat to our children from the Internet of Things is us. Surrounding our child with sensors to tell us everything, or cameras and trackers. for them or devices like Amazon Echo to answer their questions, we could disconnect the parent from the child. When children’s way of interacting with reality is only virtual, they can disconnect from society without even knowing it.
Two different studies show that “…the widespread use of new technologies raises concerns that communication skills with children may be negatively affected (Bindley, 2011 and Giedd, 2012).”
Susan Greenfield, a neuroscience researcher at the University of Oxford, suggests that a constant internet connection can «rewire the brain». She suggests that this could reduce attention span, promoting instant gratification. and causing loss of empathy . You can read her book Changing the Mind: How Digital Technology Makes its Mark on Our Brains.
There may be wisdom in Greenfield’s statement: “We must recognize that this is bringing unprecedented change to our lives, and we must decide whether this is a good thing or a bad thing. Some very good things come out of this. But, besides, we have to be very careful about what price we pay so that the things lost do not outweigh the things gained.”
Marianne Wolf, a neuroscientist at Tufts University, is also very concerned about the connected nature of our children’s lives. Her thoughts are well supported by research she did for her book Proust and the Squid: The History and Science of the Reading Brain.
Wolf suspects that the adults of tomorrow: “…may never have developed these precious abilities to visit and pay attention in a very concentrated way. so they can join in their best thoughts.» In short, “TV gave birth to a culture of sonic bite; online reading is creating an eye-bite culture.”
It’s not just technology in the hands of your kids that creates a problem. Look with your own hands. You are online now. Are you at the dinner table or sitting in the room with the kids? If your attention is here, then you are not quite With children, right? They see it. Study Not at the Dinner Table: Parent-Child Views of Family Tech Rules Shows Your Kids Want You to «Switch Off While Spending Time with Family.»
The same study found that if children could apply technical rules to parents, the top two should would attend and control them .
Isn’t that what parents want to do? Don’t they want their children to be present too and be open to observation? Who knew? This makes some sense when you consider: «…the fact that parents’ media habits predict children’s media habits.» Why don’t their needs also reflect our needs?
The entire Internet of things in moderation
Whether you’re concerned about child abduction or exploitation, gender stereotyping, identity theft, or just plain old family time, the IoT is only a threat if you let it be. Learn about it. Teach your children this. You control how far the IoT enters their lives and yours. Given the balance, there is no reason why the IoT cannot be a tool to improve the family.
Image credits: little boy and girl playing with mobile phones, uncle playing video games with his nephews, modern technology at home, indoors, dangerous online friendship concept, closeup of senior couple sending messages via webcam, via Shutterstock , webcam hacks Trendnet via Network World