How can you teach your children to use the internet safely? It’s a question on a lot of parents mind as summer draws to a close and schools start this month.
The explosive growth of the internet and digital devices is transforming kids’ lives at school and home. By the age of two, more than 90% of American children have an online history. By the age of five, more than 50% regularly interact with a computer or tablet device. By 7 or 8 they regularly play video games. By middle school, they spend more time with media than their parents or teachers and send an average of 3,400 texts a month.
Children are often unfamiliar with internet safety and security issues such as viruses or online privacy and are prone to falling for online attacks such as social engineering and phishing. Since children tend to be more open and trusting than adults, it’s easy for people with malicious intent to manipulate and scam them online.
Children know the internet as an endless source of fun and information. They can play, learn, create, connect, and so much more. What they’re unfamiliar with this that many dangers lurk on the internet, whether on email, instant messaging programs, or social networking sites. They are likely to visit websites they aren’t supposed to and accidentally delete important files or install a virus on your computer without telling you about it. Because of this, you may have to take extra security precautions to ensure that your data and child stay safe online.
Talk to your children about good “netiquette” and send them off to school safely this year with these tips:
- Be involved. Start discussing online safety with your children at an early age and supervise their online activities while teaching them good computer habits.
- Keep your children’s computer in a high-traffic area of the home. This will enable you to monitor their computer activity, and deter them from doing something they shouldn’t be doing.
- Set and enforce computer and internet boundaries that are appropriate for your child’s age and maturity level.
- Warn and educate your children about the dangers of the internet so that they recognize suspicious behavior or activity and alert you when something is wrong.
- Monitor your children’s computer and online activity. Be aware of who they are talking to and what they are doing online.
- Implement parental controls within your browser or computer to restrict which websites your child can access.
- To prevent your child from accidentally accessing, modifying, and deleting files on your computer, consider giving them a separate account with decreased access and privileges.
- Remind your children that everything on the internet is permanent and public (no matter how private it might seem) and to be cautious of what they post online.
- Scan their computers regularly for malware and keep them updated with Antivirus software and the latest security patches.
- Cyberbullying is a growing problem in schools. Teach your children how to identify and deal with cyberbullying when they encounter it.
- Identity theft cases among kids are becoming more common. Protect your child’s identity and limit how much personal information they share online.
Check out these additional sources for more information on protecting your children online:
- United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT): https://www.us-cert.gov/ncas/tips/ST05-002
- StaySafeOnline: https://www.staysafeonline.org/
- Stop. Think. Connect. : https://www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect
- On Guard Online: https://www.onguardonline.gov/topics/protect-kids-online