These days, kids and teens are online all the time. And that means that they’re more vulnerable to many online security issues that seem to be cropping up faster than they can be contained. In fact, cyber attacks and Internet safety matters have dominated news headlines in recent months, with reports of cyberbullying, compromised data, hacked social networks and more.
Being online can be risky, but there are many ways to keep you – and your children – safe. Here are five online safety pointers that parents should consider in 2014:
1 – The Key to Safe Social Networking
The best way to make sure your kids are social networking safely? Learn the ins and outs of social media yourself. Parents should be familiar with how popular networks like Facebook or Club Penguin work. Parents should become “friends” with their children on social networks, and they should know who their children are talking to. If your children are resistant to you being on their social networks, ensure them that you’ll limit your interaction to private messages.
2 – Learn and Teach About Malicious Links
The best online security suites include built-in link analysis tools that block or highlight potentially harmful sites. Parents should make sure that security software is installed (and routinely updated) on the devices their children use. You should also take the time to learn about phishing scams and malicious links, and teach your children how to protect against them – like avoiding suspicious emails and never entering personal information online.
3 – Making Family Computers Safe
Many parenting experts recommend setting up family computers in a centralized space like the kitchen or living room. This helpful in allowing parents to keep tabs on the browsing habits of children and teenagers, but keep in mind that shared family computers can be risky as well.
Shared computers family computers should have separate profiles, so kids can’t accidentally autofill credit card information or access age-inappropriate sites. Some Internet service providers and operating systems even allow you to block certain content from individual users. While you’re at it, you should also make sure your home network is safe by securing your Wi-Fi network from potential hackers.
4 – Using Password Lockers and Managers
By the time children grow into their early teens, they’ll likely belong to a number of social networks, and they may have various school and email accounts. To minimize the risk of identity theft, parents should encourage their children to use password lockers or other security software applications that make it easy to safely store usernames and passwords in one place.
And don’t forget to teach children how to create effective, strong passwords – ones with combinations of letters, symbols and numbers that cannot be easily figured out by hackers.
5 – Keep Abreast of Online Security News
Major online security breaches are routinely reported by tech news outlets. Just one recent example? The millions of Snapchat usernames and phone numbers that were stolen and posted on a website. Parents should stay informed about these events, so they can remind their children about potential risks and encourage them to take precautions.