Children are very quick to learn and to start using any Internet-enabled device, but lack of basic knowledge about online privacy and security can very easily lead to identity theft, downloads of malicious viruses and so on.
For example, Symantec, an online security company conducted a study in Singapore, which suggested that more than 1 million people in the country were victims to online crime last year and 20 percent of them said that it was their children who had downloaded a virus or malicious software to the parents’ computer.
Another danger are cyberthieves, who see easy targets in children. Criminals, for example, can combine a child’s Social Security Number with a fake date of birth and address to open bank accounts, get credit cards or loans.
As children grow, they learn the safe procedures of using the Internet and sharing information on social media. However, the time before this learning curve is the most dangerous - and this is when parents and educators should step in and offer guidance. It is important that as a parent you teach them ways to establish a Secure Web Gateway, to keep you safe from cyber crimes.
Please 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, you can start by telling that 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 ‘personal information’ means. Draw up a list for them and tell them clearly that they should always consult with you before sharing those details together with any website or person on the Internet.
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, advise 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. Diceware is an easy to use password methodology, where you roll a six-sided die five times and use the results to pick five random words from the list.
4. Curb social media usage. Children spend a lot of time on social media, so it’s important to let them know what is OK to share and what isn’t. Have a talk with your child and discuss what they should not share on social media, for everything stays forever on the Internet. If you want to take an extra step in securing your child’s online privacy, create fake social media names for them and fake school/city name.
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 or personal hacks with them to make them aware of the dangers they face while using the Internet.
7. Explain the dangers of free public Wi-Fi. Kids love free Wi-Fi – who doesn’t? Cafes, shops, and even school cafeteria might have unsecured Wi-Fi networks. Explain to your kids to be especially cautious when connecting to these networks as they can easily be monitored. One of the best ways to safely use public Wi-Fi is by installing a VPN. You can pre-install a VPN on a mobile device and teach kids to turn it on whenever using public Wi-Fi.
8. Install a VPN. For ultimate protection install a VPN service on the device they use to encrypt their online communication data. VPN, or Virtual Private Network, creates a connection tunnel that automatically encrypts all the data coming in and out of your device, and effectively protects anyone using the Internet. NordVPN is one of the safest and most user-friendly VPNs on the market. All you have to do is press the ON button and you are connected. NordVPN works on up to 6 devices, and now also has Mac and Android apps.
9. Warn them of game scams. Agree to install games together with your kids. Research to see if the game and the provider are reputable. Make sure you download the games only from a reputable source after reading some reviews. Too often fake games are uploaded online, which are made to pop with color on websites, prompting kids to install them for free, when in fact it’s malware that could infect your device.
10. 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.
11. Email deals are fake! All that sparkles is not gold. If your kids receive an 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 and never respond to them.
Kids these days are more tech-savvy than most of their parents when they were that age but at the same time, they will be exposed to online identity thefts, hackings and snooping if they are not taught basic Internet safety rules from an early age.