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Internet safety for kids: a parent’s guide

Feb 09, 2021 · 5 min read

Internet safety for kids: a parent’s guide

Teaching your kids about internet safety is absolutely vital, but where do you start? We lift the lid on cyberbullying, identity theft, stalking, and phishing scams so you can make well-informed decisions about your child's safety online.

Watch this essential video guide to help you begin the conversation:


6 Tips for keeping the kids safe online

1. Set an example

Leading by example is often the best way to show your kids how to maintain their internet safety. A long lecture about online safety will probably be less effective, so let your actions speak louder than words.

Instead, ask yourself:

  • Do I overshare on social media, but warn my kids not to?
  • Am I checking my phone way too often, especially during family time?
  • Does my child understand that online security is important to me and that I practice it every day?
  • Am I giving specific advice and being proactive when it comes to safeguarding my child and their devices against threats?

2. Know your stuff

Your kids look up to you, so educate yourself first. Keep up to date with emerging internet scams and threats, since they're constantly evolving. You'll know what you're up against and how to devise the best defense.

Top 4 scams aimed at children:

Young ones are usually caught out in gaming forums, or by casually clicking on links within messages – which could result in a severe case of identity theft or spread an irreversible infection on their device.

Here are the top 4 to look out for:

  1. Identity theft
  2. Phishing emails
  3. Malware
  4. Online gaming attacks

Our live updates on online safety are the best way to keep your security knowledge fresh. You can subscribe at the bottom of this post.

3. Protect them on social media

With kids as young as 5 equipped with iPhone's, social media has replaced a lot of physical interaction, making the internet their new playground. However, that brings with it many new internet safety concerns.

Like any playground, bullying runs rife and most young people won't tell their parents when cyberbullying occurs. Thankfully, social media platforms have been quick to introduce anti-bullying features. Instagram has it's Restrict feature, Facebook has it's bullying Prevention Hub for teens, and Snapchat recently launched their Here for you feature filled with self-help information.

Here are some specific actions you can take to protect your children on social media:

The account privacy settings within most social media or messaging apps, allow you to;

  • Decide who can see your profile, message you, and comment on your posts.
  • Report hurtful comments, messages and inappropriate photos and request for them to be removed and in severe cases close down a malicious account.
  • Unfriend or completely block people from seeing your profile.
  • Disable comments on your Instagram page altogether.
  • Hide your posts and stories from specific people for periods of time.
  • It's also worth noting that people aren't notified when you restrict, block or report them. As an extra precaution you may want to ask your children if you can be their friend on social media, given that you promise not to embarass them!

For more help in managing your privacy settings on social media, follow our tips.

4. Explain why privacy matters

It's important to explain to your kids why online safety matters, using real-world examples and giving context to your concerns.

2019 was the worst year for data breaches so far. Online privacy matters now more than ever. When details as trivial as a street name or family connection are broadcast, attackers can piece together your identity and use it to commit fraud or stalk you in real life. As a parent it's imperative to discuss how dangerous it can be to share your personal information on the Internet.

To begin, define what personal information is:

Your address, Social security number, Phone number, and Account credentials.

Next, explain how their personal information can be used against them:

  • Never post in real-time. Sharing your family's vacation pictures on social media is a clear sign that nobody's at home. Advise them not to post in real-time, so attackers can't track their moves.
  • Phishing scams. Beware of unwarranted emails from recognised companies, asking for their details to reset their account, for example.
  • Password theft. Weak passwords can easily be guessed, even stronger ones are prone to brute force attack. Hackers can use their login details to break into other accounts and sell their details on gaming platforms or the dark web.

5. Create strong passwords together

As soon as your child wants an online account of any kind, you should introduce them to the concept of password security. Their password should be strong, complex and unique so snoopers can't break into their account.

The do's and don'ts of creating a new password:

  • Make it strong by using at least 8 characters, including lower-case and capital letters, numbers, and special symbols.
  • Never include your personal information (name, birthdate) in your password or use the names of your pets, friends or family members.
  • The less your password resembles an actual word, the better.
  • If you want to use dictionary words, replace some of the letters with numbers or special characters.

How to keep your passwords secure:

  • Memorize your passwords, or use a good password manager. Never write them down.
  • Keep passwords secret (kids love secrets, so this is an easy one!)
  • Change them regularly.
  • Don't use the same password for different accounts.

6. Explain why free public Wi-Fi is dangerous

It's hard not to fall for free public Wi-Fi. From coffee shops to universities, shopping centres and train stations. It's everywhere. The problem is public networks are not safe and your information or device can be intercepted as quickly as it takes to connect.

Tell your kids that and they'll probably shrug it off with the old 'It'll never happen to me' attitude. After all, using public Wi-Fi saves your mobile data. Luckily, the danger can be avoided instantly- by using a VPN.

One NordVPN account will cover up to 6 devices, enhancing your internet safety at home and on the go. That means protection for the whole family for the price of a single subscription. If you're new to VPNs, you should know it's an essential safeguard for anyone using the Internet. A VPN encrypts your Internet traffic and redirects it through a private tunnel, hiding everything you send, do, or type online, from hackers. All you have to do is open the NordVPN app and tap the Quick Connect button for total online protection.

Stay up-to-date so your children can stay safe online. Subscribe for monthly cybersecurity and privacy tips.

Zen Bahar
Zen Bahar successVerified author

Zen likes to use her cybersecurity knowledge to help protect the privacy and freedom of others, otherwise, you can find her playing with paints in her studio in London.

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