In the words of Bob Dylan, “the times they are a-changin’.” Decades ago, kids didn’t have technology to rely on to keep them entertained. However, in this Digital Age, children as young as two years old are operating tablets and devices. As we all know, the internet can be a scary place and it has become incredibly easy for predators to reach out to little ones. Here are a few pointers on how to keep your kids safe on the internet.
Never Give Out Personal Information
This is a huge no-no. Take some time to explain to your kids that it is never okay to share personal information such as their phone number, email, or home address with anyone. Children should also never post about where they are or if they are home alone online.
Keep Devices in Family Areas
Make it a rule that children must keep all devices in family rooms, such as the living room and kitchen. This makes it a lot easier for you to discreetly monitor what they are up to.
Avoid Identity Theft
Jordan Drysdale from Black Hills Information Security says, “You should freeze your credit with all three major credit bureaus and do the same for your kids – it is just a matter of time before someone opens a card with their Social Security number (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion). This is a free service that everyone should use. If you need credit, go online, unlock your credit file for 24 hours, move on.”
Limiting your child’s screen time and encouraging other activities will prove to be beneficial. It’s extremely easy for your kiddos to come across inappropriate content, as well as cyber bullying, when they are online. The less time they spend in front of a screen, the less risk there will be.
Be Smart About Passwords
By avoiding common passwords, hackers will have a more difficult time breaking in to yours or your kids’ accounts. “The best password is not short, your birthday, your street, or pet’s name. Teaching your kids good password hygiene will help protect them in a very difficult online environment. Read about ‘two-factor authentication’ and turn this on,” says Drysdale.
Teaching your kids to be responsible and safe online is crucial. It is important for them to trust you and know that they can talk to you if they witness any unusual or suspicious activity. Tell them to trust their gut and if something feels off or unsafe, it probably is!
WORDS BY HANNAH PETERSON