Helping Children Stay Safe Online
Whether you're using the internet for school, entertainment, or to keep in touch with friends and family, it's important to know how to stay safe while you're online.
Today, we're going to talk about some best practices for staying safe online, and how you can make sure that you and your family are using the internet in a responsible and secure way.
First and foremost, let's talk about passwords. A password is like a secret code that you use to keep your online accounts safe. When you create a password, it's important to make sure that it's strong and unique. That means using a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. And don't use the same password for every account - if someone gets access to one password, you don't want them to be able to access all of your accounts! Using a password manager like 1Password can help you protect you and your family’s most important passwords.
Next, let's talk about personal information. It's important to keep your personal information safe and not share it online. That includes things like your name, address, phone number, and photos. When you're online, be careful about what you share and who you share it with. The less information about you online, the safer you and your family will be.
Another important step in staying safe online is monitoring your online activities. That means keeping an eye on the websites you visit, the apps you use, and the people you interact with. For parents, make sure that your child’s privacy settings are set to the maximum level, so that only people you trust can see their information. Teach them to be cautious of friend requests from strangers and to only accept requests from people they know in real life.
Parental controls are another great way to keep your family safe online. These are special settings that you can use to block access to inappropriate websites and apps. This is especially important for younger kids who might not know what's appropriate to view or not.
It's also important to regularly check your devices for any suspicious activity or apps. If you see something that doesn't look right, remove it immediately. And, if you're not using an app or program, consider deleting it altogether.
Creating a safe online environment is key. Encourage your child to use the internet in a positive way and explain the importance of being respectful and responsible when using social media. That means treating others with kindness and not sharing inappropriate content.
Make sure your child understands the importance of not posting photos or videos that could jeopardize their safety or character. Teach them that once something is posted online, it's difficult to completely remove it. It's also important to talk to them about the risks of posting photos or videos with geotags, which can reveal their location to strangers
Screen time is important, but it's also important to set limits. Encourage your child to engage in other activities such as reading, playing outside, or spending time with family and friends. A balance between screen time and other activities is key. Create a set of guidelines or rules for your child's social media use. This can include things like not sharing personal information, not engaging in cyberbullying, and not posting anything that could be considered inappropriate or offensive.
Two-factor authentication is a powerful tool to add an extra layer of security to your online accounts. This means that you need to provide a second piece of information (such as a code sent to your phone) to access your account, in addition to your password. This makes it much more difficult for someone to hack into your account.
In addition, remind your child that not everything they see on social media is true or accurate. Encourage them to fact-check information before sharing or reposting it, and to be skeptical of posts or messages that seem too good to be true.
By following these simple guidelines, you can help ensure that your child stays safe and responsible when using social media and other online platforms. Remember to keep the lines of communication open with your child and to always be available to discuss any concerns or questions they may have about online safety. With your guidance and support, your child can enjoy all the benefits that the internet has to offer, while staying safe and secure.
- Use Strong and Unique Passwords: Ensure that your child uses a strong and unique password for all their online accounts, which includes a mix of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Educate Your Child: Educate your child about online safety and the risks of sharing personal information online. Explain to them the importance of not sharing personal information such as their name, address, phone number, or photos online.
- Monitor Online Activities: Keep an eye on your child's online activities, including the websites they visit, the apps they use, and the people they interact with. Ensure that their privacy settings are set to the maximum level.
- Consider Installing Parental Controls: Consider using parental control software to restrict access to inappropriate websites and apps. This will help prevent your child from accessing content that is not appropriate for their age. We can make recommendations based on your use-case.
- Regularly Check Devices: Regularly check your child's device for any suspicious activity or apps. Remove any apps that are not necessary or have questionable content.
- Create a Safe Online Environment: Encourage your child to use the internet in a safe and positive way. Explain to them the importance of being respectful and responsible when using social media.
- Set Limits on Screen Time: Set limits on your child's screen time and encourage them to engage in other activities such as reading, playing outside, or spending time with family and friends.
- Use Two-Factor Authentication: Enable two-factor authentication on all of your child's online accounts to add an extra layer of security.
- Keep Software Up-to-Date: Keep your child's devices and software up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates.
- Be Involved: Be involved in your child's online activities and regularly discuss any concerns or issues that may arise. Create an open and honest dialogue with your child about online safety.
Educational Cybersecurity Resources for Kids
We have compiled a few resources to share with your children to teach them the essentials of best practices for cybersecurity.
- CommonSense Media - Great resource for parents and kids alike.
- Squad Security Book - Activity packed book on all things cyber targeting kids 6-10.
- BeInternetAwesome & Interland - Online resource and online interactive game where you learn while playing in a video game format.
- FBI's Safe Online Surfing - Interactive resources to teach children how to stay safe while surfing the internet. Targeting kids 8-13.
- CyBear Activities for Kids - Downloadable activity sheets, information on educational card games and electronic games you can download to your computer. They will teach children more than just cybersecurity definitions, but also how to create secret messages and defend against cyber attacks!
- Cybersmile Education Program - Provides a full curriculum of interactive modules suitable for all age groups and abilities. The program delivers fun and engaging education on important topics affecting internet users of all ages
- Cloud Quest - Interactive safety adventure game for kids.
- NetSmartzKids - Another interactive set of games for kids.
Resources for Parents
Here are some resources for parents who want to learn more about how to protect their children online.
- ConnectSafely - A rundown of various cyber threats.
- Protecting Your Children Online - BlackCloak's on-demand webinar on how to best protect your children as they go online.
See Something, Say Something
It’s essential to talk to your children about cyberbullying, cyberstalking, and cybercrime. Children should know to immediately engage you or another adult if they are the subject of, or witness to, any form of online harassment. Likewise, your children should know to immediately turn off their devices and alert an adult should they suspect or confirm that malicious activity that could serve as an early indication of a cyberattack or fraud is present.
Setting guidelines for children can be tricky and isn’t always easy. But these best practices for children’s online privacy protection will not interrupt their online experience, nor will they prevent children from capitalizing on what the internet has to offer. As digital natives, your children will understand why these guidelines are important.