Younger Internet users are among the most vulnerable victims of Internet scams, cybercriminals and hackers. Safer Internet Day, celebrated today (February 6) this year, is a reminder for everyone to take part in creating a safer Internet.
Safer Internet Day
Children’s Internet safety starts with their parents – therefore, it’s important to teach them the security basics at a young age. Please take a look at some tips and tricks parents can implement at home.
1. Lay out some ground rules. Whether your child is a teenager or a kid in primary school, you need to set a few basic guidelines. For example, you can start by telling them that anything shared on the Internet once stays there forever and that nothing is 100% private.
2. Tell them to check with you. First tell your child what “personal information” means. Draw up a list for them and tell them clearly that they should always consult with you before sharing those details together with any website or person on the Internet.
3. Password protection and usage. These days, children start creating their own email accounts at a young age. Although email services alert users to use strong passwords, advise your child on what kind of passwords to choose. Tell them that the password could be a mix of characters and special symbols and ask them never to share their login details with anyone, perhaps even with you. Diceware is an easy to use password methodology, where you roll a six-sided die five times and use the results to pick five random words from the list.
4. Curb social media usage. Children spend a lot of time on social media, so it’s important to let them know what is OK to share and what isn’t. Have a talk with your child and discuss what they should not share on social media, as everything stays on the Internet for good. If you want to take an extra step in securing your child’s online privacy, create fake social media names for them and a fake school/ city name.
5. IM and texting. Sending messages on IM clients like Messenger or WhatsApp is something every teenager does, but they don’t always know that their chats are not 100% private. Therefore, you should advise them never to share personal or bank details and other sensitive information like passwords via messages.
6. Share news of personal hacks with them. If your child is old enough to understand this, share the latest news about identity thefts or personal hacks with them to make them aware of the dangers they face while using the Internet.
7. Explain the dangers of free public Wi-Fi. Kids love free Wi-Fi – who doesn’t? Cafes, shops, and even school cafeterias might have unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Explain to your kids to be especially cautious when connecting to these networks as they can easily be monitored.
8. Install a VPN. For ultimate protection, install a VPN service on the device they use to encrypt their online communication data. VPN, or Virtual Private Network, creates a connection tunnel that automatically encrypts all the data coming in and out of your device, and effectively protects anyone using the Internet. NordVPN is one of the safest and most user-friendly VPNs on the market. All you have to do is press the ON button – and you are connected. NordVPN works on up to six devices, and has apps for all major platforms, including iOS and Android.
9. Warn them of game scams. Agree to install games together with your kids. Research to see if the game and the provider are reputable. Make sure you download the games only from a reliable source after reading some reviews. There are many fake games that pop up with colour on websites, prompting kids to install them for free, when in fact it’s malware that could infect your device.
10. Communication with strangers. The Internet is as social as ever. New chat rooms and forums uniting different interest groups are popping up every day. As kids are eager to discuss their interests with peers, it is important to speak to them about sharing one’s private information. Under no circumstances should they share any pictures, addresses, etc.
11. Email deals are fake! All that glitters is not gold. If your kids receive an email about a great offer like a free cell phone or concert tickets, it’s a trick designed to get one to give up personal information. Again, advise your kids to always show you such emails and never respond to them.
Kids these days are more tech-savvy than most of their parents when they were that age – but at the same time, they will be exposed to online identity thefts, hackings and snooping if they are not taught basic Internet safety rules from an early age.