We live in the 21st century, where now kids are able to access the internet on their own from as early as 8 years old. Today’s youth are often called “digital natives” because they are so comfortable with living online. But as much as we may admire their proficiency with their devices, we shouldn’t forget that security is probably not top of mind. Young minds don’t grasp the concept of identity theft or understand the consequences of a ransomware attack, but they can if you make them aware of it.
It’s important that kids start practicing how to be safe online because it sets them up for practicing good cybersecurity as they get older. A few tips to keep your kids safe online include keeping their devices up-to-date, using parental controls and more.
The Importance of Keeping Your Kids Safe Online
The more you access the internet, the more cybersecurity threats you’ll end up facing and that’s why it’s essential to talk to your kids about staying safe online. Along with online safety, you can also talk to kids about online threats they should stay away from or report to an adult. Here are three cyberthreats kids might face when online.
Scammers are constantly looking for vulnerable people to target and some of those vulnerable targets are kids. Kids are all over the internet, whether it’s because they’re on social media or they’re playing video games online, they are more likely to be scammed by cybercriminals simply because they go about their internet activities with no worries in mind.
Informing your kids about scammers and the latest scams that are going around can make them more vigilant when it comes to identifying scams and not revealing any sensitive information to scammers.
Bullying can occur both online and offline, which is why it’s extremely important that you build a level of trust with your kids and monitor their online activities. You want to be aware that they are not hiding anything from you like cyberbullying which can get worse the more it goes unnoticed by trusted adults or guardians. Cyberbullying is more common than you think – a National Crime Victimization Survey revealed that about 16% of students in grades 9-12 experienced cyberbullying in just a year.
Whether your child is the one bullying or the one being bullied, you have to talk to your kids about treating others kindly and informing adults when they’re not being treated kindly. Your child could negatively impact their future based on how they treat others online so make sure you’re talking to them about cyberbullying.
Cyberattacks target anyone online, which is why knowing the different types of cyberattacks can be useful in identifying them. Two types of cyberattacks that your kids might face are phishing attacks and smishing attacks. A phishing attack is a sophisticated social engineering technique used to trick a victim into divulging sensitive information like credit cards or social security numbers. To get the victim to reveal information, the cybercriminal makes the email sound urgent. Similarly to a phishing attack, a smishing attack will also make the message sound urgent but smishing attacks occur through text messages. Both of these cyberattacks try to get the victim to click on suspicious links in order to get them to reveal sensitive information, going as far as stealing money.
Attacks on devices can occur to anyone who is actively online, so teaching your kids about the different cyberattacks will make them more aware of what to look out for when online.
Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe Online
Install security software on devices your children use
Security software like anti-malware and anti-spyware can protect devices that kids use by preventing malware and other threats from impacting the internal hardware and systems. It can also add an extra layer of protection if your kids unknowingly click on something that contains a virus or other malware.
Get a password manager for your family
A password manager is a tool for businesses and users that allows them to manage their passwords. All their passwords are stored in a password vault that only they can access with their master password. Once stored in their vault, users can share and manage their passwords securely.
Keeper offers a password manager for families that allows families to securely share passwords and files without having to worry about cybercriminals intercepting them. With a password manager, you’ll be able to ensure that your kids are always creating strong, unique passwords for all of their accounts because password managers also aid in generating complex passwords – making it more difficult for cybercriminals to crack their passwords.
Keep devices up-to-date
Updating your kid’s devices is essential to keeping those devices secure. Updates add essential features, remove bugs and patch security flaws. Updating devices whenever a new update becomes available ensures that those devices are reliable and have the newest security updates. Always remind your kids to update their devices so they become used to doing so.
Use parental controls
Although you can tell your kids the importance of staying safe online, there’s almost always a guarantee that they won’t listen. If you decide that your kids need further protection to stay clear of online threats other than just verbal tips, you can turn on parental controls on all their devices.
Parental controls allow you to control what your kids are able to see when they’re using the internet and also allow you to control their privacy settings. If you want to find out how to set parental controls for your kids on their smartphones, social media, gaming consoles and more, check out this guide.
Teach Your Kids the Importance of Cybersecurity Early On
It can be difficult to get your kids to understand the importance of practicing cybersecurity, but the more you remind them and have them actively practice it, the more it’ll become second nature to them. Remind kids of a few basic protections. Never click on unknown links. Never open email attachments. Never respond to chat messages from people they don’t know. Never “friend” strangers. Never give personal information out. Don’t bully others and alert parents if they suspect they are the targets of a bully.
As you start teaching your kids the importance of cybersecurity, it’s also important that you build a level of trust between your kids and you as a parent. If your kids were to ever experience a cyberattack, you want your kids to be able to trust you enough to tell you and ask for your help. Cyberthreats and cyberattacks are a learning experience for everyone, including your kids.
Updated on November 9, 2022.