From toddlers to teenagers, our children have easily become some of the most tech-savvy members of our households. They are spending more time online than ever before with virtual learning, gaming and social networking all becoming part of their daily routines. With that in mind, adults have a responsibility to guide their kids’ internet habits and warn them about potential dangers. But to really protect your family from digital threats, you’ll need to do more than block inappropriate websites and limit screen time.
Here are some critical steps parents can take to boost online safety:
- Start the conversation early and lead by example.
If a child is old enough to swipe and type, they’re old enough to learn some basic ground rules of what they should and shouldn’t do on the web. The sooner you start talking about online safety and security, the easier it’ll be to keep tabs on their internet usage and discuss appropriate online behaviour.
Kids learn by watching. Instead of droning on about the complexities of online safety, walk your child through the basics by exploring websites together, playing online games and answering their questions as you go. For example, when registering their information for a new app or site, be sure to teach your kids the importance of creating strong and unique passwords.
2. Get real about phishing.
We’re quick to warn older adults in our lives about opening suspicious attachments and clicking on unfamiliar links, but kids need similar schooling when it comes to phishing. Cyber criminals sometimes disguise themselves as legitimate organizations and companies. They use email, text messages, pop-up boxes and social media to trick people into sharing personal information like login names and passwords, bank account info and credit card details.
Teach kids to look out for email addresses and URLs that may be a number or letter off from the real thing. By hovering a mouse over a link, they can peek at the complete URL without clicking on it. Same goes for unexpected attachments, which cyber criminals use to spread malware or steal data. Show your children how to tap the “X” in the top right corner of browser windows and pop-ups, closing out anything that appears suspicious.
3. Don’t play around with online gaming.
No matter what kind of games your kids are into (sports, puzzles, role playing, etc.), discussing online safety is essential. Children should only download games and apps from reputable brands and stores. This will prevent them from accidentally inviting malware into your digital home. Help kids install anti-virus software as needed and double-check that automatic updates are enabled on their devices whenever available. Encourage kids to choose screen names that don’t give away any personal details either.
It’s never too early to start learning about online safety. That’s why Get Cyber Safe, Canada’s public awareness campaign about cyber security, is recruiting the next generation of Cyber Agents to help make the internet a safer place.
They’ve released a new workbook to help kids learn about cyber security. The workbook transforms kids into fictional cyber agents to defeat the evil cyber villain, Viro. It features different missions to teach players the basics of cyber security and empowers them to share their new skills with their family and friends to help secure their accounts and devices.
Are the kids in your life ready to accept this mission? To jump into action, visit https://www.GetCyberSafe.gc.ca/en/resources/get-cyber-safe-agency.
For more tips on how to talk to your kids about online safety, you can also visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/microsoft-365-life-hacks/privacy-and-safety/talking-to-your-kids-about-online-safety