Another school year is here, and it’s essential for parents to not only focus on your kids’ new schedules, teachers, and clubs, but also on protection their children’s online activities. Cybersecurity is a critical lesson, and children are especially vulnerable to online threats. Be proactive! Here are some practical safety tips to help your child stay safe online.
Practical Safety Tips to Keep Your Child Protected Online
1. Strong Passwords
Encourage your child to create strong and unique passwords for all their online accounts. This doesn’t mean they have to be difficult to remember, but it does mean they should be a bit longer than you might expect. Teach them the importance of creating a password that is at least 12 characters long. It can be helpful to base it on an obscure reference that isn’t easily guessed, like a quote from a book. Most important, make sure they know to never share their passwords with anyone. Yes, that includes Joey’s best friend.
2. Emphasize Online Safety
It’s never too soon to teach your child about privacy while using the internet. Even small amounts of information can be used by a hacker. So teach your child never to give out their name, address, phone numbers, or school details, on any public online platforms. Of course, stranger danger still applies! These details should never be shared with someone they don’t know offline.
Encourage your children to think twice before posting anything on social media. Walk them through the potential consequences on posting something they shouldn’t. Once something goes online, like a photo or video, it’s there forever! (even if they “delete” it) Even saying something like “I can’t play right now, I’m on the bus” can provide bad actors with details about our little ones’ schedules.
3. Phishing Lessons
Phishing attacks and other online scams can trick even the most tech-savvy among us. Explain to your children what phishing is, how to spot it, and how to avoid falling prey to these attacks with this online safety tip. If a message is asking for personal information or requesting money, they should be skeptical about it. Reinforce the importance of reporting anything suspicious to a trusted adult, like you or a teacher.
4. Encourage Regular Backups
“Mom, I can’t find my essay on the computer! I’ve worked on it for hours!” is the last thing you want to hear, right? Online safety tip #4 is to teach your children about back ups. With online cloud storage, this is pretty easy. But if your child doesn’t save their files to the cloud, it may not actually be backed up. Save frequently and save it to a safe place.
5. Set Boundaries and Time Management
Promote healthy technology habits by helping your child set limits to their technology use. Most devices allow you to set time limits to help your child get sufficient rest, physical activity, and socialization with friends and family. Explain the importance of balance and how technology can both be beneficial and detrimental if used incorrectly. Excessive internet use has its downsides.
Online Safety Tips for Our Children
As parents, we know how important it is to teach our children about their online (and offline) safety. Starting the discussion early will help keep them safe and encourage good cyber hygiene for the rest of their lives. Remember, education and ongoing communication are both key to a safe online environment. As they embark on another school year, may your children stay cyber safe!