Why should you teach cybersecurity to your kids?
Now more than ever, we understand the importance of safety, both online and in the real world. The coronavirus epidemic has forced millions of families from across the globe to adopt social distancing and rely on their Internet-enabled devices to communicate with the outside world, friends and family.
As schools locked down for the remainder of the school season, students have turned to online classes, and other means of communications with their classmates. It's not just parents who need to adapt to the new work-from-home environment and threat landscape.
The Internet can provide a wide range of fun activities for children and educational materials but, as kids surpass their parents in tech savviness, their digital profiles can easily become a target for cyber criminals.
Age gap for cyber security?
Learning the basics of good cyber hygiene should not have an age limit. While you monitor what apps and games your toddler accesses, it might be harder to keep an eye on teens and their online activity.
More screen time can come with a price. This is why it's important to teach your young ones about their digital profile and how they can stay safe while perusing the web – and the sooner the better.
Data shows that three in five children use Internet-based devices in their homes, and it's estimated that children between 8 and 18 spend about 45 hours per week online – numbers that have most likely increased during stay-at-home orders.
Think twice before you post
We live in the social media era, where both adults and children post their daily activities, their likes and dislikes, opinions, daily selfies and videos.
Posting or sharing something online may seem harmless to your young one. However, you should start explaining how the digital world works. Remember, once a picture is online, it remains online forever. Advise your child or teen to be cautious about sharing on social media, and tweak their profile settings so that only their friends can view their profile.
Online popularity and an extensive friends' list have become the new craze, especially for teenagers. However, the digital world can also provide anonymity, which is often abused by cyber criminals who pose as a trustworthy individual or friend.
It's essential that you teach your child to spot red flags in any online communication with strangers. While the best course of action would be to ignore the message request, it's easy to overlook this step. Advise them to be cautious about whom they befriend, and lay down some of the risks they expose themselves to.
A study from the Center for Cyber Safety and Education revealed that 40% of children in grades 4-8 have talked to a stranger online. Even more worrying, 53% provided their phone number, 30% texted and 15% tried to meet up with the unknown individual.
Cyberbullying can have serious psychological effects on a child. The most common tactics include posting mean comments, spreading rumors, threatening, and even impersonating someone using a fake account to damage online reputation.
Social media bullies wreak havoc, and your child should feel comfortable enough to talk with you about any individual that might be harassing them online. Help your child be mindful of their approach, and immediately report bullies to online platforms or local authorities.
Oversharing and cyber theft
It's not just online accounts that your child needs to worry about. According to a TransUnion report, around 20% of children aged 13 to 18 have a credit card. Making sure they shop responsibly, only on trusted websites, can save them from becoming a victim of identity theft or fraud.
Advise teenagers not to store credit card information when shopping online or for any in-game purchases. If, by chance, your teen has access to his Social Security number, urge him NEVER to provide this personal identifiable information online.
Child identity theft is no game. According to 2017 study conducted by Javelin Research, more than 1 million children had their identities stolen, and 66% of victims were under the age of 8. A child's identity is more attractive to cyber-crooks. Why? It can allow criminals to open new lines of credit that could go unchecked for years. By the time your child has grown and wants to apply for a school loan or rent an apartment, he won't be able to due to a damaged credit score.
Securing online accounts
Most teenagers have an email account already, and no parental guidance was required when signing up. As you should be aware of the dangers of phishing emails and how important it is to protect your personal information, encourage your child not to click on suspicious links or open attachments he receives from unfamiliar email addresses.
You are not just protecting the account owner's private info, but assuring that no malicious actions affect a device that other family members might be using.
It's critical for online accounts to have secure passwords. Most children play online games and set up accounts, allowing them to engage in interactions with other players. However, the dangers of data breaches are not limited to financial accounts, and any user database is useful for cyber thieves.
Instruct your young one not to recycle passwords, and to enable a two-factor authentication method where possible.
Protecting your child's online identity is essential in the digital era, and becoming a digitally-minded family is hard work. However, the long-term benefits are worth the efforts. Keep your devices up to date with the latest security solution, and share your wisdom with friends and family.