As parents or guardians, it can be challenging to know when to allow kids to go online, much less how to talk to them about it. One thing is certain, the internet isn't going away anytime soon. Any child who uses a device to go online needs guidance from a trusted adult on doing so safely. In the same way you wouldn't let your kid wander alone through an unknown neighborhood, you shouldn't let your kid use the internet without any support or supervision. While you can't change the internet, you can provide your kids with tools and resources to engage with it safely. Doing so ensures that kids will always put their safety first online, regardless of the content or platform.
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and while many think that only applies to adults, cybersecurity is vital for kids as well. Some of the most common issues kids face online are cyberbullying, identity theft, and cyber predators. However, these can all be avoided by practicing five easy safety steps:
- Keep personal information private this includes your name, address, phone number, birthday, passwords, and even the name of your school.
- Always use strong passwords with a combination of at least eight letters, numbers, and symbols
- Stop and think before you post or click on anything online. Once something is posted, it is on the internet forever, and clicking on an unknown link can expose your device to malware.
- Show respect to others online and stand up to bullying, online or off.
- Speak up if you see something inappropriate or a stranger tries to contact you online, report it and tell a trusted adult.
Just as crimes happen in real life, they also occur on the internet, so kids need to know that their actions online have consequences that can affect them and others. The earlier we implement healthy and safe habits for our kids, the better prepared they will be when they're older to keep themselves and their information safe.
Use the following video to talk to kids about their online safety and help them make the pledge to be good digital citizens!
Visit Common Sense Media for detailed lesson plans on internet safety for kids. For cybersecurity resources, visit www.cisecurity.org/blog/6-educational-cybersecurity-resources-for-kids/ to learn more.