October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month. With schools now back in session, students may be re-establishing in-person friendships and making new ones, with social media being a major factor in many of these friendships. But kids can be exposed to unique risks in cyberspace. Help kids remember that cybersafety should always be a priority, and check out these tips for promoting kids’ Internet security.
1. Increase awareness: Help ensure younger children know the basics of staying safe online by using techniques like online games and videos that will define computer terms (e.g., cyberbullying, netiquette, virus protection) to establish basic understanding.
2. Protect your kid’s identity: Remind your kids never to give out personal information, such as name, home address, or telephone number, to anyone they don’t know through email, Twitter, Facebook, or in online chat rooms or bulletin boards. Talk with your children about the online risks of interacting with strangers through the computer and sending notes and pictures into cyberspace. Online games may help kids understand how to protect their personal information and the ramifications of stolen identity.
3. Protect your computer: Regularly updating security software can protect your family against scammers, hackers, and other online threats that can compromise your computer system and, consequently, your family’s financial security and other private information. Using software security that automatically updates keeps your technology current and decreases the likelihood of picking up bad programs or malware.
4. Create unique passwords: For online safety, tell your kids to use different passwords for every online account they have to help prevent others from accessing their personal information. Make sure that you monitor each account and make sure your children know that strong passwords should include elements like symbols, numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters, and no names or words that others could easily guess.
5. Monitor online activity: Monitoring your kids’ online activity can help keep them safe. Explore various parental controls and consider what options may work best for you and your family.
6. Prevent cyberbullying: Cyberbullying—bullying using electronic technology—can happen anytime and anywhere. Teach your children to think through what they post on the Net about other people and the consequences those posts could have if they are unkind or mean. Also, keep communication with your child open and speak up if you suspect someone is bullying him or her.
7. Promote appropriate online interactions: Use some online games to help show kids how to make responsible decisions about online communication and learn about key issues of digital citizenship. Online activities can include exploration of methods of communication in chat rooms and emails, for example.
These are just a few ideas to help your kids stay safe and healthy while growing up in the Digital Age.