Teaching kids about Internet Privacy & Security
Cases of identity theft have brought to the attention the risks that follow with sharing private information on the internet. The data you input and share online could be used to hurt your reputation, expose your personal and financial details, or worse – be used to conduct attacks against you or your friends & family. Therefore, it’s always best to be absolutely cautious when sharing information on the internet.
This should place today’s parents on high alert, because children today start using the internet at a very young age, but don’t understand that their actions online can lead to serious consequences. They are very quick and eager to use internet enabled devices, but lack the obvious know how about internet privacy and security and are often eager to overshare. As children grow, the way they use the internet, share information on social media, etc changes a lot, but throughout this learning curve, parents and educators could step in and offer guidance and introduce some internet ground rules.
We take a look at some tips & tricks parents can implement at home to teach children about internet privacy and safety.
1. Lay out some ground rules
Whether your child is a teenager or a kid in elementary school, you need to tell them a few basic guidelines. For example, start by telling them things like anything shared once on the internet stays there forever and that nothing is 100% private.
2. Tell them to check with you
First tell your child what is meant by personal information. Draw up a list for them and tell them clearly that they should always, ALWAYS, consult with you before sharing those details together with any website or person on the internet. This would make them aware of not providing all of the personal details to anyone. Different things are required by websites for children of different ages, so it is better to guide your child through the things he will be required to share, only after your consent, of course.
3. Password protection and usage
Children at a young age start creating their own email accounts these days. Although such email websites alert users to choose strong passwords, advice 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 passwords with anyone, perhaps even with you. This will develop the need to keep passwords secure in your child’s mind.
4. Curb social media usage
Children spend the most amount of time on social media, so it is important to let them know what is ok to share and what isn’t. Have a talk with your child and discuss with him or her what he or she should not share on social media, for everything stays forever on the internet and nothing is 100% private.
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 or other sensitive information like passwords via messages.
6. Share news of personal hacks with them
If your child is big enough to understand this, share the latest news about identity thefts, personal hacks, etc. with them to make them aware of the dangers they face while using the internet. Also, it is a good practice to teach your child about things like VPN.
7. Explain to them the dangers of free public wifi
Kids love free wifi – who doesn’t. Cafes, shops, and even school cafeteria might have unsecured wifi networks. Explaining to your kid(s) to be especially cautious when connecting to these networks – as they can easily be monitored. For ultimate protection you can install a VPN service on the device they use to encrypt their online communication data.
8. Warn them of game scams
Agree to install games together with your kids. Read up to see if the game and the provider are reputable. Make sure you download the games from a reputable source after reading some reviews. Too often fake games are uploaded online, which are made to pop with colour on websites, prompting kids to install them for free, when in fact they might be malware that could infect your device.
9. Communication with strangers
The internet is as social as ever. New chat rooms, 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.
10. Email deals are fake!
All that sparkles is not gold. If your kids receive a 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 with you and not to respond to them in any circumstance.
The dangers of browsing the internet are recognized by everyone today, and like all other dangers, this too falls under parental guidance. Apart from the methods discussed above, always encourage your child to discuss things with you.