The internet is a place young people and kids like to hang out and communicate with each other. However, there are risks that every parent should know how to teach their kids to navigate. 

Cyberspace Has Risks

Cyberspace exposes kids to unique risks. Social media can be a great place for them to connect with friends, but comes internet security threats.

Increase Your Children’s Online Awareness

Explain to your children basic online behavior terms such as ‘cyberbullying’, ‘netiquette’, and antivirus protection. This will help increase their awareness of possible dangers while they use the web.

Child Identity Theft

All individuals are at risk of identity theft, including children. Make sure your kids understand not to give out any personal information online. These include:

  • name
  • telephone number
  • email address
  • home address
  • school location
  • names of teachers

Children make good targets for identity theft because their credit records and identities are considered clean. This allows a thief to present a clean record to potential creditors.

Also make sure your kids understand not to send pictures or information to strangers in cyberspace. This includes on social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, online chat rooms, or bulletin boards.

Regularly Update Antivirus Software

Protecting your family from hackers and cyberthieves requires having up-to-date antivirus software running on your system(s). If your system is compromised by a criminal, your family’s privacy and financial security could be at risk. Antivirus software that runs automatic updates is preferred and can protect your computers and devices from online threats such as malware and other malicious programs.

Have Powerful Passwords

Passwords should be unique and hard to figure out by a stranger. Make sure your kids understand that each online account or device has a different password and username. Review each of their accounts to make sure they are following this on a regular basis. Strong passwords need to combine symbols, upper and lower case letters, and numbers. They should also not use dates, birthdays, or personal names of your kids, friends, or family members. Your kids need to know that strong passwords are ones that are hard to guess.

Monitor Your Children’s Online Activity

Keeping your children safe online may require monitoring their online activity. This is especially true for younger children who have yet to understand the risks of using the web. There is parental control software you can run, including those offered with antivirus software. 

Protect Them From Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is an ever-present possibility in today’s social media and message boards. Give your children lessons in how to write posts and communicate online with the consequences in mind of mean responses from others. Check in regularly with them to make sure they are not being bullied by another person online.

Teach Appropriate Online Communications

Teach your kids how to communicate online in chat rooms and social media while being responsible participants when interacting with others. You could show them key communications to use and also be wary of online. Make sure they are in a digital age that requires good citizenship.

Teach Kids to Know Where Their Devices Are

Have your kids know where their devices are at all times. Kids are notorious for leaving or forgetting their belongings. It’s vital to teach your kids to be extra careful about not leaving their devices unattended. Bad actors are always on the lookout to steal devices because when they get one, they have unlimited access to personal information. Mobile devices need to be in a secure place when they are not in the hands of your children. 

Teach Kids About Phishing

Phishing is a way cybercriminals can get sensitive personal information from victims online by hiding behind a trustworthy entity such as a company during communications. These include passwords, usernames, and financial information such as credit card numbers. Make sure your children understand that not all individuals they communicate are real people who are there in their best interests. Teach them to not communicate with people they do not already know well on social media or email, and to ignore “phishy” links or messages.

Teach Safe Social Media Practices

Kids today use social media often for entertainment, news, and communicating with friends. However, it can pose some risks to their safety. Make sure your kids know not to accept friend requests or communicate with followers that are questionable or that they do not already know personally. Monitor your kids’ accounts and make sure the security settings on their browser, antivirus, and social media accounts are set to the maximum level. Also, make sure they never give out their address or name and location of their school.

Teach Them That Passwords Must Be Kept Secret

Kids need to learn that passwords are meant to be kept secret from everyone except themselves and their parents, family members or teachers. Review their passwords and make sure they are strong and unique. Teach them to regularly change their passwords and continue to do so going into their future lives. 

Make sure the Network is Secure

Wifi networks in public places are not guaranteed to be secure, and often are not. Teach you children to be aware of the network they are using and to use only those that are secure, such as in public libraries or schools.

To Recap…

The internet is today’s communications medium for kids and young adults everywhere. So, it is important for parents to teach their children safe online practices they can use for the rest of their lives.

To learn more about protections against identity theft, see our post Are Password Managers Secure?

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