How to Help Your Kids Understand Cybersecurity

Approximately 1 million cyber attacks happen each day, and they don’t just target companies and adults. Anyone who is on the internet, including your kids, can be a potential victims of a cyber crime. Online crime is the fastest-growing crime in the US and children are the fastest-growing victim group. According to a recent survey by AVG, less than half of parents and guardians regularly talk to their kids about online safety.

The Center for Cyber Safety and Education released the ‘Children’s Internet Usage Study’ and reported some pretty shocking statistics.

  • 40% of children chatted with a stranger online
  • 53% revealed their phone numbers
  • 15% tried to meet the stanger
  • 6% revealed their home address

Pretty scary, right? If you haven’t yet, it’s time to have a conversation with your kids about cybersecurity.

Cybercriminals approach children differently than they would adults. For example, an adult may be tricked into clicking on a suspicious link via a phishing email, whereas a child would be targeted with suspicious links to a fan site, a funny video, or a game.

Approach cybersecurity with your child the way you do with real life situations. You’ve always stressed how important their safety is and why they should be suspicious of unfamiliar people. So, start the conversation by advising them to treat their online activity and communication as they would when they are in public. For example, they would never talk to a complete stranger on the street, so they shouldn’t accept a friend request nor engage in a conversation with a stranger online.

You’ll want to explain to them, that just like criminals in real life that try to take advantage of people to steal their money and information, there are criminals that do the same online. It may feel safer online since they aren’t face to face, but these online criminals can steal information and infect your computer without you even knowing.

Cyberbullying is also another evil that children often run into while online. Examples of cyberbullying include: sending hurtful messages via chat, email, and/or text; spreading rumors via social media and group texts; and posting hurtful items on social media. It is estimated that around 15.5% of high-schoolers are affected by cyberbullying.

Share with them they key safety rules:

  • Do not use an easy password, and definitely don’t include your name in the password
  • Do not install any apps without permission
  • Do not share your password with anyone (except your parents)
  • Only add people that you know as friends or followers on social media
  • Keep all of your social media profiles private
  • Never post any personal or sensitive information on social media, including your address, phone number, or email
  • Never upload pictures of other people without their permission

Safety tips for parents:

  • Create all of your child’s accounts (email, social media, youtube, etc) and monitor them regularly. One out of every five children gets online sexual solicitations from predators and cybercriminals. Make sure their usernames and profiles don’t reveal their age, gender, or hometown.
  • Always keep your children in eyesight and in common family areas when they are using the internet. Your kid is less likely to browse suspicious or questionable content if they know you may walk by or hear something.
  • Use kid friendly search engines (Kiddle, KidRex, and Safe Search Kids are options). Always check the browser history and implement all security and privacy features.
  • Set all web browsers to block pop-ups and disable java so your child is less likely to encounter questionable ads, viruses, and inappropriate content.
  • Limit their usage for free online time, and only after they’ve done their homework or any other relevant projects.
  • Educate yourself on cybersecurity. Learn about the most common cybersecurity risks and how to prevent them.

To ensure a safe online environment, continue to communicate with your child about their online safety and responsibilities. The more comfortable they are, the more likely they’ll be to alert you to suspicious activity or online bullying.

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