Let’s face it, kids can learn to use technology quicker than almost any adult. As your child grows, in addition to asking to use phones or tablets for play, they will likely also need access to Internet connected devices or apps to complete their school assignments. As your child reaches an age where they may have more independent use of any internet connected device for school or play, it’s important to talk to them about steps they can take to stay safe.
Save chatting for your friends
While your child may think they’re talking to another kid just like them, there’s no way to know exactly who is behind the other screen in an instant message or chatroom. Teach your child to be leery of strangers online, especially those asking for personal information.
Ask a parent before downloading apps or games
Flashy apps that catch children’s eyes and claim to be free may contain viruses or malware. Teach your child to ask before they download anything, even if it’s “free.” Before downloading the item your child is requesting, check to make sure it’s legitimate and from a reliable source. Once it’s downloaded, run it through a virus scanner before opening it.
Delete links or attachments from people you don’t know
If your child has an email or messaging account, teach them not to click on a link or open an attachment someone sends them if they don’t know who it’s from or what it is. These may be ways that scammers are trying to gain access to your computer to collect personal and financial information.
Create strong passwords
If your child needs to create a password for an account, teach them how to build one that’s strong and can’t easily be guessed. Help them pick a phrase they’ll remember and include special characters and numbers to make it more secure. For example: Humpty*DumptySat0naWall3!
Protect your personal information
Tell your child what kind of information they shouldn’t share with others online. For instance, their birthday and computer passwords.
In addition to teaching your child these rules, be sure to monitor their online activity yourself. Keep laptops or computers your child might use in common areas of the home, such as the family room or kitchen, so you can keep an eye on what websites they’re visiting and who they’re talking to. Even the most informed child can make a mistake, but if you’re present, you can help take steps to correct it quickly.