Technology moves fast. That in itself shouldn’t be surprising, and neither should the fact that most kids know more about technology than their parents. Unfortunately, that puts many parents in the awkward position of not understanding how to protect their children from cyber issues. Knowing the most critical Internet safety tips for children can be the difference between children using the Internet safely, or leaving themselves vulnerable to those with malicious intent. Because all children are at risk.
Tips for Parents: The Top Internet Safety Tips for Children
In a 2016 survey, 40% of children reported chatting with a stranger online, with 53% of them revealing their phone numbers and 6% sharing their home addresses. Those are some scary numbers. To help keep children safe, share these top 17 Internet safety tips for children with parents:
1-Get smart about social media
You can’t teach your kids to ride a bike if you can’t ride a bike; and you can’t expect to teach them Internet cyber safety without being familiar with the social networking sites they may use, like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram. Social networking sites let kids (and adults) share photos and videos, and have conversations with friends and strangers. Know how to use these sites so you can discuss them with your children.
2-Remind your children, “Don’t talk to strangers”
Kids who are wary of strangers on the street don’t always use the same precautions online. Make it clear that people often lie about themselves and their ages online, especially predators. And under no circumstances should your children ever meet up with someone they met online without your permission (and if they do meet, you should go along).
3-Teach your kids to keep personal info private
It’s important that children understand what kinds of information shouldn’t be shared, and why. For example, they should never post personal information online such as phone numbers, addresses and credit cards, all of which can be used by criminals.
4-Set rules for social media use
Establishing rules or guidelines from the start is a great way to instill positive habits for your children on social media. You don’t want to be too strict, however, or you risk them breaking the rules behind your back. These Internet safety tips for children can be a great starting point for rules.
5-Keep your computer in a common area of the house
It’s more difficult for sex offenders and online bullies to harass your children when you can see what they are doing. Don’t let your kids go to bed with their laptops and phones.
6-Be aware of every computer your children use
Your children probably use computers at their friends’ houses. Talk to their friends’ parents about how they supervise Internet use.
7-Make Internet time, family time
Browsing the Internet as a family can be fun. You’ll learn more about your kids’ interests, and can guide them to age-appropriate websites.
8-Know their passwords
Help your kids set up their social media and email accounts, and make sure to get their passwords. Always be up front with your kids and let them know you might use their passwords to check out their conversations. You don’t want them to lose their trust in you by discovering you are secretly spying on them.
9-Watch for changes in their behavior
Look for signs that an online sex offender is preying on your kids, or signs your children are victims of cyberbullying. These signs include secrecy about what they do online, withdrawing from the family, and negative personality changes.
10-Look for unexpected gifts to your children
Sexual predators may send letters, photos or gifts to kids to seduce them. Ask your kids about any new toys or electronics they suddenly bring home.
11-Check your children’s browsing history
Open your children’s web browsers and look for “History.” This will show a list of websites they’ve visited. Also check their “Trash” or “Recycle” bins to see what files have been deleted.
12-Set rules, and enforce them
Don’t wait until something bad happens to start creating guidelines for your kids. Rules may include limiting their screen time and limiting what sites they can visit.
13-Keep an open conversation
Your kids could accidentally stumble upon a bad site, even if they’re doing everything right. Get your kids in the habit of talking to you about what they’re doing online, and they will be more likely to come to you if there’s a problem.
14-Protect your computer
Hackers can compromise your computer system and steal your family’s financial security and other private information. Regularly updating software on your phone or home computer can protect your family against scammers and other cyber threats.
15-Teach positive Internet behavior
Just like you don’t want other kids or people behaving inappropriately online to your kids, teach your children good habits. Talk to them about cyberbullying, and why it’s wrong. Discuss why certain posts can be hurtful. Also, if your children are aware of the signs of cyberbullying, they will be more likely to identify it and come to you if it happens to them, or to a friend.
16-Download a general smartphone security checklist (PDF).
Most kids will interact with the Internet through a Smartphone than a computer. This helpful guide from the FCC has several smart smartphone security tips.
Don’t delay. Kids start using the Internet at very young ages. Discuss the rules, dangers and proper Internet behavior as soon as they start using the Internet, or their friends do. Says David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, “I think one of the key things is to start the process of discussing online safety with your children at an early age, when they start to do anything that involves the Internet. They might still be using the computer with you, rather than independently and this offers an opportunity to highlight the fact that the online world parallels the real world and that there are both safe and unsafe things out there.”
We’re Here to Help
Any questions about these Internet safety tips for children? If you’re unsure, ask us. At Single Path, we’re happy to discuss cyber security and threats, no matter how basic a question, or how advanced. As experts on cyber security, including implementing, creating and assessing many security offerings for businesses and schools, we’d be delighted to review any of these Internet safety tips for children with you.