What children consider free, might actually come at the price of being bundled with adware, spyware or other nasty malware, often designed to remain unnoticed for as long as possible. The consequences of such an infection can range from annoying ads and popups, through stolen personal details, to losing access to all their important data. This doesn’t only apply to personal computers and laptops, but also to mobile devices, as malicious applications continue to sneak into official app stores.

What can you do to help your children avoid the pitfalls of downloading?

  1. Keep your operating system patched and use a reliable internet security solution. Mobile devices running Android can be protected by a reputable mobile security solution. ESET Mobile Security will automatically run a scan on each downloaded file and block any malicious items, keeping your devices safe.
  2. When your children want to download new programs, direct them towards the websites of the software’s original developer or to official online stores. When sticking to official sources, you won’t need to worry about accidentally downloading any unwanted extras that might be lurking in the background.
  3. Teach your kids to stop and think before clicking on links and download buttons, as many can be deceptive, leading to scams or outright malicious websites.
  4. “If something seems too good to be true, it most probably is” should be the golden rule of any download. A good example is third party apps claiming to offer attractive additional functions for existing games or online services, only to display ads, or worse, infect your device with malware.
  5. Using a reputable parental control app will help keep an eye on your children’s downloading habits and enable you to block potentially problematic content. Parental control apps can also save you a considerable amount of money that might otherwise be spent should your child accidentally make online purchases

The importance of good communication

There’s a great deal to talk about but we shouldn’t forget how we talk. Adopting a non-confrontational approach with your kids is a good idea. Many people download content from the internet so it’s possible someone you know has had a negative experience. You can tell your children about this but frame it in a positive light – what steps did the downloader take to ensure a positive resolution? What did they learn from the experience – what do they do differently now?