Talk to Your Kids About Internet Safety

When it comes to stealing someone’s identity for personal gain, children aren’t exempt from the deceptive tactics employed by fraudsters. If your child is diving head first into the cyber world, it’s time to educate them on the risk factors of the Internet and how to steer clear of them. Remember, one small mistake can lead to a phishing scam and the disclosure of identifying information that can wreck their credit score or worse.

The web is chock-full of resources on computer safety, so you may not know where to start the discussion with your children. When you are ready to have that conversation, here are some important topics to discuss:

Malware

Malware comes in many different forms, including malicious adware, viruses and Trojan horses, and can destroy your computer’s operating system. If you’ve ever dealt with a virus of this sort, you’re well aware of the lasting effects it can have your PC. This is why it’s important to convey the importance of staying on top of antivirus, firewall and other system updates to your child. Additionally, you need to explain how to avoid suspicious links and sharing confidential data to protect your system. LifeLock offers a detailed guide on the dangers of malware and how to protect yourself if you’d like to learn more.

Passwords

Most of the applications your child uses require usernames and passwords to validate their identity before playing. But, what happens when this information is revealed to others? The chances of the account being compromised skyrockets, so be sure to emphasize the importance of keeping passwords under wraps. Microsoft gives tips for creating strong passwords if you need help explaining.

Social Media

Thanks to Facebook, Twitter and many other social media platforms, it’s easier than ever to get in touch with individuals all around the world at the tap of a finger. Although you may not have the time to monitor your son or daughter’s every move on social media, you should know their profile information so you can review their online activity. Also, encourage them to only communicate with those they know to protect themselves from Internet predators who may not have their best interest at heart. American Academy of Pediatrics discusses kids and social media if you need more information.

Additional Safety Tips

Once your children understand the basics of what it takes to stay safe online, you can take the next step to ensure their safety by:

  • Implementing a set of ground rules so they are well aware of your expectations. Should they decide to test their limits, you will be prepared to address the situation accordingly.
  • Placing your laptop or desktop in a highly-visible location in the home. This will discourage them from visiting places they shouldn’t be while online.
  • Frequently reviewing their browsing activity to confirm they’re only visiting websites you approve of.
  • Installing parental controls and blocking inappropriate or potentially harmful websites.
  • Explaining the negative consequences of poor decision-making, such as engaging in cyberbullying or failing to log off social networks in public places.

While some of these suggestions may seem a bit overboard, they will help prevent your child from being victimized by fraudsters.

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