Protect Your Family from Cyber Threats
By Center for Cyber Safety and Education
Did you know that 400,000 kids per year are victims of identity theft? Or that literally millions of people lose their money, privacy, and sense of security every year due to online scams?
There are many things you can do to keep yourself, your kids, and your senior loved ones safe online. Here are just a few.
Tips for Adults & Seniors
New Device Safety Change the default password and disable photo geotagging.
Online Shopping Use a credit card, not a debit card, because you then have more fraud protection. Don’t store your credit card number on websites. Use “https” when visiting websites. Create strong, unique passwords.
Avoid Phishing Scams Learn how to identify and avoid bogus emails that appear to be from trusted brands. These emails often aim to collect your private information to open new accounts—or invade your existing ones.
Make Sure Your Internet Connection Is Secure Rename routers and networks. Use strong passwords. Turn on encryption. Use a VPN (virtual private network; see youtube.com/watch?v=zPqpWEJrhf0).
Tips for Parents
New Device Safety Change the default password, disable photo geotagging, and set up non-administrative accounts. Remind your kids not to share any personal information. Set up a charging station away from the child’s room to limit screen time at night. See sidebar “Safe at Any Age” for advice on how to talk to kids about cyber safety.
Gaming Encourage your kids to have private in-game chats only with their IRL (in-real-life) friends; set rules for time limits and allowed games; and implement restrictions in the app store to prevent downloading any questionable apps.
Social Media Require parental approval of social groups and networks, and “friend” or “follow” your children to keep tabs on their social media activity. Ensure your child’s profile is set to “private.”
Cyberbullying Teach your children to immediately report offensive and harmful comments. Talk with them about recognizing signs of cyberbullying, including unintentional bullying. Act swiftly and help your children take action.
Safe at Any Age How to Speak to Kids About Online Threats
1. Do pick the right moment. Bringing up the subject can be challenging, as your tweens or teens may automatically become defensive about their privacy. One of the options for doing it properly is to choose the right time. Don’t start talking about your child’s Internet use and the dangers that come with it after a disagreement, when tensions are already high. With kids, and especially teenagers, this can lead to problems.
2. Do wait until your children get off the computer. When they walk away from it, ask them if they know how to be safe online and if they are aware of the risks and dangers of the Internet. This way, you will sound less like an overprotective, overbearing parent, at least to your teenagers.
3. Don’t assume your children already know about Internet safety. When discussing Internet safety with children, it’s crucial not to assume that they already know about it. Even if your children stop you, saying they already know how to be safe online, carry on. Be sure to repeat your point and establish any Internet rules you want them to follow. It’s important to remember that teenagers often think they know everything, but many don’t. For example, they may know that there are Internet predators out there, but do they also know that pictures of them drinking or smoking underage could get them suspended or even arrested?
4. Don’t skip the social media platforms. Since so many kids are using social media, these platforms need to be discussed. Make sure to tell them that anyone can hide behind a computer, even an Internet predator. Also, help them understand the dangers of posting pictures and personal information on their social media profiles. In addition to social media platforms, apps and Internet chat rooms should also be discussed. As with social media platforms, make sure that your kids know that they could be talking to anyone. Tell them to immediately get out of the chat room if the tone turns sexual or if they start feeling uncomfortable.
5. Don’t forget the personal blogs. Many websites allow their users to start free blogs. Many teenagers find this a great way to vent or let their friends stay up-to-date on their thoughts. Your teens must understand that everyone can view these blogs, so their information isn’t really private and personal.
The Center for Cyber Safety and Education’s mission is to empower students, teachers, and whole communities to secure themselves online through cyber safety education and awareness programs, information security scholarships, and industry and consumer research. Find out more at iamcybersafe.org/s.