how to stay safe online

How to Stay Safe Online | An Epic Guide to Online Safety

 

 

The internet is an excellent place for entertainment seekers, information hunters, and innovation pursuers. However, as with any other appealing destination, if you don’t keep yourself safe, the attraction quickly wears off and is replaced by anxiety and pain.

Are you confused? Well, there’s a reason why people search “how to stay safe online?” Ever wondered why some parents get worried when their children spend too much time online? Because countless dangers lurk around in the online world.

The internet is a place where, on the one hand, you are free to wander the entertainment-filled virtual realm, but on the other, you are also exposed to some serious threats.

These online threats range from mild to moderate to extremely dangerous. No, I am not only hinting at hackers or snoopers who are out there to steal our online identity, or worst yet, our money.

I am talking about cyber bullies, cyberstalkers, and online predators, to name a few. They are people who can harm our kids in many ways, imaginable. For what? To either satisfy their fantasies or urges or simply for the sake of fun (they have a sick definition of fun in their twisted mind).

How do you protect yourself or your children from the dangers on the internet? By learning how to stay safe online, of course!

How to Stay Safe Online – Internet Safety Facts

There are some critical e-safety facts that you must know to shred all doubts from your mind that the internet is a hazard-free place. Only then will you be able to understand better how to stay safe on the Internet.

  • According to the popular news agency, Associated Press, over 90,000 online predators have been identified and removed from MySpace, a popular social media website among teens.
  • Over 20% of internet sex offenders confessed to finding the exact location of the victims through the information shared on social media.
  • Over 70% of parents confess of leaving their kids’ online activities unsupervised after they hit the age of 14.
  • 1 in 7 of every teenager tends to take a risqué photo of themselves. Moreover, more than half of such indecent images are shared online.

If the above facts still don’t convince you, check out the real-life social experiment in which the famous Youtuber Coby Persin shows us how easy it is for kids to fall into the trap of online predators.

Internet Safety Tips for Parents

Internet safety begins with parents. For starters, parents should stay up to date with the growing online threats that are hazardous to their kids. Secondly, they should also keep an eye on their activities for anything suspicious.

Vital Signs That Your Kids Are Exposed to Online Threats

  • Kids who are the victim of online abuse, or in touch with sexual predators tend to be secretive of what they do online.
  • They are also secretive of who they chat with online or talk to on the phone.
  • Your kid may even express signs of anxiety after using the internet.
  • They may seem withdrawn from siblings, parents, or other family members.
  • They may receive phone calls late at night.

Here are some practice advice for staying safe online and keeping your children away from online dangers:

  • Keep them away from phishing.

Cybersafety tips start with paying attention to your kid’s internet activities. Monitor what your child is sharing online or what type of emails or messages they’re responding to. Remember that phishing is one of the easiest ways for people with ill intentions to gather sensitive information from their kids.

  • Always keep an open dialogue between you and your kids.

It will allow you to better teach your children about the pros and cons of using the internet. Moreover, it will also encourage your children to be open to you about how they spend their time online.

  • Teach your kids to avoid meeting someone they don’t know

Online predators first win the trust of your kids and then ask them to meet face-to-face. Therefore, teach your kids to tell you if someone who they know only online asks them to share any information, or to meet them somewhere outside.

  • Follow your kids on social networks.

Strictly follow what your kids are doing online. Follow them on their social networks, forums, and even communities and check what type of information they are sharing publicly.

  • Oppose their use of video chat applications

Discourage your kids from using any video chat applications that may lead them to lousy internet practices. Ask them not to use the webcam on their computers, laptops, or tablets.

  • Establish internet usage policies

Put some internet usage rules in place, and ask your kids to follow those rules.

Internet Safety Tips for Kids (Including Teens)

how to stay safe online

Parents alone can’t keep their kids completely safe online unless kids also learn how to stay safe online. Let’s take a look at some Internet safety tips for teens.

  • Avoid befriending people who you don’t know.
  • Never expose your account details or passwords to anyone online. You should avoid sharing it even with your best friends.
  • Set up your social media networks’ privacy settings to maximum.
  • Always inform your parents about any online discussion or experience that made you feel uncomfortable.
  • Never meet any individual you only know through online chat or phone calls. In case anyone asks you for a face-to-face meeting, inform your parents about it.
  • Always avoid activities such as suspicious downloading or browsing that could put your device at risk of keyloggers or malware.

Internet Safety Tips for Students

Students who are studying in high school or colleges are also not entirely safe from internet threats and need to keep themselves up to date on how to stay safe online.

  • Always use either antivirus or firewall to protect your device from different kinds of threats. For instance, college dorm networks are not usually protected, which makes them an easy target for a security breach.
  • Never use simple passwords to protect your college ids, social network accounts, or laptop access. Use highly complex passwords.
  • Never open or access any links that are sent from suspicious emails. Never open connections that are even sent from someone you know.
  • If you are being cyberbullied online, take screenshots of the offensive comments and take them to the concerned authorities such as your college administration.

How to Stay Safe Online – Bonus Safety Tips

Here are some bonus tips for teens and tweens on how to be safe on the internet

  • Stalkers are everywhere on social media, which leaves you with just two options: either you limit the visibility of your profile, or you let people take advantage of your naivety.
  • Never leave your devices unattended – it can’t get any simpler than this! Leaving your Smartphone or laptop unattended with your Facebook or online bank ID logged in merely is ASKING FOR TROUBLE. Always close your browsing sessions or log out from your social accounts, even if you are in the comfort of your home.
  • Do the following words sound familiar? ‘Hi James, we’re calling from XYZ consultancy, and you’ve just won our lucky draw worth $1 million! All we need is your bank account details, and you’re good to go.’ It’s surprising how many people still get manipulated this way. Nobody out there will give you bucks for no reason, let alone $1 million.
  • “It Won’t Happen to Me” is the general approach of people who think that they are not attractive to cyberstalkers or online predators. But once they get a reality check, they realize they should have been proactive with their Internet usage. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Conclusion

You can find hundreds of thousands of resources on online safety tips for kids. You will come across many tools to monitor or restrict your kids’ internet activities. However, keep in mind that the best firewall against all kinds of online dangers are the parents themselves.

Form a close bond with your children so they feel comfortable discussing with you any problems they encounter. Only then will you be able to keep them safe from all online (and offline!) risks.


 

Mohsin Qadir An information security analyst in the making, a father of an adorable kid and a technology writer (Contributor). He can be found lurking around top network security blogs, looking for scoops on information security and privacy trends.

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