A number of Intivix team members have children, not all of us, but a fair amount of us. And if you bring us together, you’ll likely hear about our children. That’s a natural parental thing to do, talk about your kids because you love them that much. And when you couple the love of your own children with our focus on IT services and support, you realize that children need our help when it comes to being cyberwise. Frankly, helping kids become cyberwise has become a passion at Intivix.
Keeping kids safe in the land of technology is important and necessary. More and more kids are going online, and unfortunately, more and more hackers and predators are also going online to go after children. This isn’t a scare tactic. It’s an unfortunate fact that we are all dealing with. So, let’s dig into lessons that parents, guardians, grandparents, and more can share with kids to help them become cyberwise.
Just as we recommend in nearly all of our articles, it is important to teach children to be cautious when online. Being cautious is a very broad request, so provide some specifics your kids can focus on:
Keep in mind that these may be hard lessons for kids as they tend to be naturally trusting, and also curious. Reminding them of this information on a frequent basis is a great idea – heck these lessons are good reminders for those that are not kids as well!
This is a big one and worth stressing. Things like your full name, phone number, address, email address, name of your school, name of your sports team/troop/band/other groups, and friend’s names should not be shared online. It is very easy for predators to locate these details and use that information against, or to find, a child. Further, information on where and when a child will be somewhere should also be off-limits for the same reasons. Personal information is just that, personal, and the internet is far from personal.
Help your child understand the importance of creating strong, secure passwords and that those passwords shouldn’t be shared, even with friends. Strong passwords can help protect their accounts from being hacked, and their information and photos from being accessed.
The internet isn’t private. If you’ve read even one of our other articles, you know that hackers try to access pretty much anything they can online. That includes things that kids share. And, once it is shared or posted, it is online…forever. True, some things can be deleted, but if someone else shares it before deletion, it is still out there. Let your kids know that if they want to share photos, they should only be shared with people that they know and trust. If they are sharing on a social platform, review the privacy settings with them so that both of you know how to apply them.
Bullying and cyberbullying is real, and it is critical that this is explained to children to help them understand why it is wrong and what to do if it happens to them. According to StopBullying.gov, “cyberbullying is bullying that takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets. Cyberbullying can occur through SMS, Text, and apps, or online in social media, forums, or gaming where people can view, participate in, or share content.”
And according to a McAfee article, “Eighty-seven percent [of teens] have witnessed cyberbullying and 26% have been victims themselves.”
Rather than shy away from this topic with your children, discuss it, and discuss it again. Understanding cyberbullying is a critical component of being cyberwise.
We all know things happen. Make sure to let your kids know that if they accidentally share something or someone approaches them online, that is demonstrating inappropriate behavior that they can talk to you about it. And when they do, do your best to stay calm and thank them for telling you. From there you can determine the best course of action, whether it is deleting a post or contacting the local authorities if needed. The bottom line is that kids need someone they can trust if something does happen.
Outside of teaching your children how to be cyberwise, there are also a few things that you can do as parents/guardians to keep your children safe online:
Eventually, your children will grow up, and they will be going online outside of your home if they aren’t already. As parents and guardians, we can help instill strong online behavior and good thinking by discussing what good behavior is at home, multiple times. Think of these conversations as another way of keeping your child safe. That’s how we see it at Intivix.