Internet Safety Month is a reminder to check children’s online activities

Eighth-grade history teacher Enrique Legaspi has his students "tweet" answers to him during class at Hollenbeck Middle School using their own handheld devices or school computers. He says using Twitter has saved on paper costs, increased student participation, and has made him a more effective teacher.

CROMWELL — June is Internet Safety Month, and Connecticut Better Business Bureau advises parents to not only check their own online security habits, but also their children’s.

Anyone with a child knows they do understand and may listen, but they tend to have a short memory at times, so this month is a reminder to give your children a refresher course in online safety.  Unfortunately, although some parents help their kids with their first baby steps online, most do not.

According to a study by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), 74 percent of parents surveyed admitted they did not monitor their children’s online activities.  This is particularly important, since the NCSA study also reports seven out of ten children are victims of cyber bullying.

The good news is that the study further revealed that talking to your children and reminding them about safe online behavior does have an impact.  The survey also finds that 46 percent of young people say they would change their online habits if their parents were paying attention.

The most important issue for young internet newcomers is an understanding of how to use the internet safely, and just as important, monitoring their online activities until you are satisfied that your kids are following your advice and warnings.  Children may not know better or have the necessary judgement to understand the consequences of their actions.

Older children may have experience online, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily follow the family’s internet safety rules.  We know that online threats evolve and we should make sure that we, as well as our children, understand those risks and how to avoid them.

Connecticut BBB has an Internet Safety Month checklist to keep your family and private information safe:

Monitor their social media presence – You should know where they have accounts or profiles and what information they are sharing.  Set family rules, and ask your children for their passwords for those sites.

Check privacy settings – This is good advice for the kids and adults.  Websites change default privacy settings from time to time – and you will want to know who can see a social media profile, as well as what information might be shared with marketers or strangers.

Verify apps and games – Do you know which ones your kids are using?  Are they free?  Do they have a privacy policy and do they allow you to opt out of information sharing?  Make sure apps are downloaded from reliable sources.

Set sharing parameters – Aside from commerce, entertainment and information, the internet is all about sharing, but you should know if they are sharing photos, personal information, your location, telephone number, address and when you are going on vacation.  Explain to your children the concept of not sharing inappropriate information about themselves or the family.

Explain instant messaging and chat features – It is essential that your children understand that if they don’t know someone in real life, they don’t need to chat with them online.  Basically it’s what we have all been taught: don’t talk to strangers.

Source: Fox CT