Now more than ever, children are spending much of their time online. With online learning and recommended distancing, kids are bound to spend more time on the web. Swooned by the allures of the internet, most kids are completely oblivious about the harm it can cause. That’s why parents need to get involved.
From identity theft to cyberbullying, there are many dangers that your child can be exposed to. Playing online games and taking online classes can seem harmless. But, you never know what happens when your child is using the devices unsupervised.
Considering that children under 16 spend 3.5 hours on average on their mobile devices, you can’t keep an eye on them at all times. What you can do is help them understand the importance of cybersecurity.
If you want to take certain security measures to keep your kids safe online, here’s what you can do.
1. Discuss the Importance of Staying Safe Online
The topic of cybersecurity can seem too complex for children. However, it doesn’t need to be. Simply explain the online threats and cybersecurity in plain and child-appropriate language.
You don’t need to throw in the big words, but use simple words to explain how the world of the internet works. The sooner you teach your child about cybersecurity, the better they’ll be able to take care of themselves.
If you think that your child is old enough to understand the cybersecurity terms, there’s something that can help you educate them. FBI’s Safe Online Surfing website offers educational games about cybersecurity for children in 3rd to 8th grade.
2. Limit Their Time Online
Be in control of your child’s use of the internet. If they have limited internet time, they won’t have the time to get into online trouble. Not to mention that too much screen time can lead to attention problems, anxiety, and depression.
3. Explain How to Protect Their Identity
According to Michael Bruemmer, Vice President of Consumer Protection for Experian, “Child identity fraud or theft will affect 25% of kids before turning 18.” This is why you must teach your child how to protect his or her identity.
Explain that they should never, no matter what, give out their name, phone number, home address, or passwords. Kids must know that this type of information shouldn’t be shared online. Not on the website, online forums, nor social media.
4. Create Strong Passwords
Kids won’t think much about their passwords. They’ll use their birthday, pet’s name, or something simple as that. They’ll also use the same password for all accounts. This makes their data more exposed.
Help your child to create strong passwords. Use random words, upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. In addition, create different passwords for different accounts.
5. Use Security Software
If you don’t already have security software, it is the right time to get one. Security software can prevent malware, hackers, and other threats to access your computer system. Since children tend to explore websites or try to download files without questioning their security, security software is a must.
In case you already have security software, you should make sure that it updates regularly. The updates are necessary for keeping your software up to date and running smoothly.
6. Secure Your Home Wireless Network
Prying eyes of online criminals aren’t strangers to targeting home wireless networks. That’s why you should take some extra steps to ensure that your family, including your children, are safe when they’re using your home Wi-Fi network.
Here’s what you can do to secure the home wireless network:
- Changing your Wi-Fi’s default name
- Set a strong and unique password
- Activate network encryption
- Change the default IP address on the router
- Turn off the network when you aren’t at home
7. Teach Them How to Act Online
The internet can seem like a world with endless possibilities. Children can easily get carried away clicking on one link after another. One of those links can be a threat to their online security.
Martin Stocker, an IT technician for Subjecto, a free database of flashcards and essay samples, shared useful advice, “Talk with your child about the variety of internet pages. They should know that there are websites designed for fraud. They should also know that they mustn’t click on links that offer something for free.”
It’s best if you can convince your children to stick to credible websites and apps. Set a rule that they should always consult you before they go to a new site or download a new app.
8. Direct Them towards the Suitable Websites
Instead of letting your child roam around the internet in pursuit of entertaining, direct them towards several safe websites they can you. Since you are the one who will choose the websites, you won’t have to worry about cyber threats.
Some of the entertaining and safe websites for children are:
Add bookmarks on their web browser that will take your child directly to those websites. To ensure that your child doesn’t stray away from a risky website, use Google’s SafeSearch tool. This tool makes searching the internet child-friendly.
9. Change the Settings on Social Media
All social media platforms have privacy settings. This is your chance to adjust some features and make those apps more child-appropriate.
You don’t need to forbid your child to use social media. Just adjust the privacy settings and introduce them to child-appropriate social media apps.
10. Educate Your Kids About Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is a huge concern for parents and teachers. It can happen anytime, and there are no specific signs that can help you spot it. Some children are cyberbullies without even realizing how harmful their actions are.
Teach your kids about what cyberbullying is. Let them know that posting mean messages online can truly harm their peers. Also, tell them that they should never keep it for themselves if someone is bullying them online. They should also report to you or their teacher if they notice that someone they know is being cyberbullied.
The internet has become a necessity for pretty much everyone, including children. However, there is a silver lining in everything, including the internet. With all the good stuff also comes malicious hackers and cyberbullying.
Teach your child how to be aware of internet threats while exploiting all the benefits. With some cautiousness and prevention, you can keep your child safe online.
Guest Author: Diana Adjadj is a writer and editor. She combines her passion for writing with her interest in research and creates thought-provoking content in various fields. Besides working as a contributor writer for Subjecto, Diana also runs her own blog. What inspires her the most in her writing is traveling and meeting new people.