In our 24/7 online culture, children actively using computers and other digital devices is not only unavoidable, but highly desirable – in the right situations. Our devices are amazing for learning, work, entertainment, not to mention, toys. With a little hand holding and guidance, even the youngest member of the family can enjoy and benefit from an app on tablet or computer.

All too often, though, we give our little Suzies and Jimmys our devices simply to distract them or to keep them quiet.

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Think about it, when was the last time you were in a restaurant or a checkout line, where you didn’t see a small child mesmerized by the screen of a digital device clutched in his or her little fingers?

Smart phones and tablets have been mother’s little helper for a few years now. Even though what it meant when the Rolling Stones originally sang those lyrics and what it means now are different things, the end result is similar. We’re reaching for pacifiers and coping mechanisms.

The problem when we reflexively hand that device to our child in any number of situations is that we’re leaving out the hand-holding that they need to learn how to use the phone or tablet or computer properly – typically this means that security is ignored.

Security goes out the window as even our youngest knows the PIN on the iPhone. The importance of safeguarding passwords is disregarded as we ask our children to check email for us as we’re driving along the highway. (Yes, that’s physically safer than for you to check email while driving, but it’s bad as a security and privacy practice.)

Bad habits have a way of growing and sticking with us. Children begin to learn about privacy and security from parents. You don’t need to be a technical wiz to be able to get your child started on the right path. You need to be the responsible adult when they come to you with questions, need advice or are looking for approval of a good decision they’ve made.

We were pleased to participate in a recent Twitter chat (#ChatSTC) hosted by the Washington DC-based organization StaySafeOnline (part of the National Cyber Security Alliance). The topic, Keeping Kids Cyber Safe & #CyberAware is especially pertinent these days.

Here’s the story of how you can address family security as told by some of the tweets from the chat. You can review the entire #ChatSTC at StaySafeOnline.

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The next #ChatSTC will be on April 7. We’ll be there, and hope you’ll be there, too.