No demographic is more exposed to cybercrime as children. Moreover, no other demographic can be as damaged by a cybercrime incident, as well. In one recent internet security report, it was found that children are fifty times more likely to be attacked by online scammers than adults. This calls upon an urgent need to secure our children through education, counseling and use of cyber security tools that ensure their online safety and privacy.
There is no single measure that can completely secure the eager minds of children from hackers, identity thieves and data snoopers. However, there surely are some best practices that can minimize the risks. We present them here as 8 ways to keep your kids safer and more secure online.
1. Stay Close to Your Child – Online and Offline
Online safety begins at home, and this requires you to continuously engage with your children online. Do not allow them to add strangers to their social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. Be one of their friends or contacts on email and every online community they connect to. Pay attention to every online environment your children makes use of to ensure it addresses your online safety concerns.
2. Teach Them How Dangerous Internet Can Be!
You can support or discourage your children’s online choices about certain platforms and websites they visit. Google them, find out their trustworthiness and get a security plug-in such as web of trust (WOT) up with your browser. This helps you find the overall picture of a website’s security in an instant. At home, share news and stories about the dangers of unsafe browsing with your children. This will help them spot an online privacy threat sooner. Ensure that you educate them to be extra cautious when clicking on, downloading, posting, and uploading content. Tell them to be responsible online.
3. Keep an Anti-Virus/Anti-Spyware to Keep Children Secure Online
An antivirus functions as a basic defense shield against virus, malware and spyware. If you don’t already have an antivirus, then it is high time you get it installed on all of your family computers. If you do have one, make sure it is regularly updated and has all firewall settings enabled. Some antiviruses only work best when your OS (Windows or iOS) are updated. So make sure they are. Remember, online safety and privacy is often breached by irresponsible downloads that are loaded with virus and malware.
4. Know The Rules And Teach Them to Your Children Too
Most of the popular social networking websites are not meant for children under 13 years old. Open source video websites like YouTube and DailyMotion have age-gates and parental controls. Do not allow your children to use such websites until they qualify their age-appropriateness criteria. The bottom line is: know the boundaries of exposure your children have on the internet, and once learned make sure you teach them to the child too.
5. Tighten your Privacy Settings
Even if you allow your children to join certain social networking sites or apps, make sure you’ve set strict settings for the content your children shares with their peers. Do not let them give out personally identifiable information to the whole world, as this is what hackers need to carry out their attacks. You can also review online privacy settings of your web browser and minimize options for cookies, image loading, pop-ups and other potentially threatening sources of child identity theft, you must be tough with this.
6. Make Separate User Accounts on Your Computer
If you share your PC with your children, make sure that they have separate user accounts limiting their online access privileges. Things safe for you might not be safe enough for your children. You must not allow your internet privacy settings, bookmarks, files and other personal data shared with your children. This way, you will be free of adjusting the settings every time your children use the shared PC. It will also prevent your children from accidentally accessing, modifying, or changing your personalized settings and files. This ensures your children don’t accidentally open portals that allow hackers to move in and compromise their safety. Thus you will be able to keep children secure online.
7. Watch Out for Security Risks other than PC
Most electronic devices, including tablets, laptops, smart phones, TV and even car music players have internet connectivity options. You must therefore keep an eye out for privacy and security settings in each of these gadgets. These can be as dangerous as your PC, as this child’s baby monitor hack attempt showed.
8. Deploy a VPN
A virtual private network, or simply VPN, is a data encryption and tunneling service that hides your actual internet location and deciphers your data until it reaches its destination. Most hackers pick on internet users who do not use a VPN and use the internet unencrypted. When a VPN Service is in place, hacking becomes almost impossible and that is why VPN users can enjoy ultimate privacy security and anonymity.
Internet is a fantastic source of education, entertainment and networking for the 21st century children. However, it should be used cautiously as well as given access to children after substantial knowhow. This requires you to be proactive about your children online safety and privacy. By practicing the aforementioned 8 ways to make your children more secure online, you can definitely protect them. Report any child abuse, cyber bullying and identity theft case straight to National Center for Missing and Exploited Children’s Cyber Tipline using its toll number 1-800-843-5678 or by visiting its website.