How to be a good parent in the IoT age

Have you ever imagined what your kids will say when they’re grown up about the way you raised them? We all remember stuff from our childhood that probably influenced our lives in one way or another. Maybe your mom never gave you chocolate. Your father let you win at ping pong. Perhaps your parents made you read philosophy when you were eight. Possibly they never told your sister off for making fun of your nose. Maybe they kept telling you that you’re special. This kind of stuff stays with us forever and sometimes informs who we become. Famous people interviewed on TV always have one or two stories like that.

But things used to be so much different than they are now. It seems much easier when you could just say ‘less TV, more books’ and your job as a parent was done. Now our kids have got the internet, and even worse, the ‘Internet of Things’, and smartphones, Snapchat, Alexa, YouTube, and god knows what else. Our decisions have got so much more complicated. Do we give them a tablet when they’re in preschool? Do we take their devices away, like these people, and these people, and these people, and these people urge us to do? How much will they hate us for it? Will they complain about it to Jimmy Fallon when they are famous? How much Minecraft should they be allowed to play? Do we encourage them to learn coding? Is it ok when teachers ask them to research stuff online for homework or to use Kahoots in class?

There’s probably no universal recipe for success, as circumstances vary widely. Some things, however, aren’t open for debate: no matter what you decide about how much Internet and connectivity to allow in your children’s lives, you need to know what they do online and to protect them as much as you can from the many dangers lurking out there. No matter how much you trust your kids, you need to remember they are vulnerable when connected. And in the age of the Internet of Things, when all our household devices — from speakers to toasters to TVs — can connect to the wider world, the line between the offline and the online space is blurrier than ever. Even a smart toy or a children’s watch can allow strangers to track them in real time and contact them directly.

That’s why good parenting should always include at least two components: powerful home cybersecurity to protect all your connected devices and block privacy intruders; and smart parental controls to let you know what your kids are up to when accessing the web and to keep them safe from threats.

Sounds complicated? Here’s the good news: there is a smart little device that can do both these things. Bitdefender BOX connects to your router and secures your entire Wi-Fi network. This means every device that connects to the Internet in your home, from baby monitors to smart fridges, is covered. Bitdefender BOX will even secure those devices that come without security features, including those that don’t have an operating system. There’s of course an app that allows you to manage security for every little connected thing, and tons of useful features, including on-the-go protection for your mobile devices and vulnerability scanning.

Moreover, when you get Bitdefender BOX you also receive a free subscription to Bitdefender’s award winning cybersecurity software, which otherwise you would need to buy separately. It can be installed on your Windows, macOS, iOS and Android devices and it comes with powerful parental controls. This means you’ll be able to discreetly monitor your kids’ online activities, track their location in real time, put limits on usage and set up restrictions so they don’t accidentally access malicious websites and don’t fall victim to online predators. Plus, Bitdefender will automatically block rogue sites and will alert you of suspicious behaviors.

Granted, Bitdefender BOX won’t do all your parenting for you. But at least it will be a great helper. So when your kid is invited to a late night show to talk about their life one or two decades from now, the world will know you are the best parent anybody could wish.

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