Online Security Guide for Parents and Kids

Online Security Guide for Parents and Kids

The Internet is a useful tool for studying, completing everyday tasks, and for having fun. If a parent and child are not careful, though, it can also be a dangerous place. Thieves can steal people's personal information. Some people use social networking sites or email to harass and bully others. The risk of a predator pretending to be a teenager or child and doing harm to a kid is also present online. Parents and kids should take steps to protect themselves while still taking full advantage of the benefits the Internet has to offer.

Security Issues Online

Security issues and scams abound online. Parents and children can protect themselves and defend against common scams by practicing common sense and caution in many cases. One common tactic is for thieves to send people an email pretending to be their bank, favorite retail store, or other online outlet. This scam, called a "phishing" scam, asks the person to provide personal information in a manner that the real company would never do. It may ask a person to verify information that the bank or company should already have.

Emails sent by phishers look as though they came from the actual company. The company's logo may be present, for example. Some emails look as though they were sent by an actual employee of the company. The website the emails asks the person to go to may look like the bank's actual website. People can verify information and protect themselves from any scams by calling their bank or the company to verify that the email is legitimate. They should not call the number given in the email, as that is most likely a fake number, but instead call the number they have recorded in their personal files. They can also type the URL of the bank or company instead of clicking on anything in the email.

Identity theft is another security issue online. Phishing scams exist so that thieves can access people's personal data, then sell it or use it for their own personal gain. Some thieves obtain personal information by breaking into large websites, such as an online store, and stealing the addresses and credit card information of people who have used the site. Once a thief has stolen a person's information, they can open credit cards in their name or use that person's existing credit card.

Cyberbullying is an online issue that impacts children or teenagers. As with traditional bullying, cyberbullying occurs when a teenager or children is tormented, humiliated, or threatened by another person. The cyberbully usually has to be a peer of the child. Adults do not cyberbully, they harass. Typically, an incident of cyberbullying goes on over a period of time. The bully may call the victim terrible names or use crude language when messaging or chatting with them. In some cases, cyberbullying has resulted in the victim committing suicide, so it is a very serious concern. Parents should talk to their children about it and should remind children to treat people the way they would want to be treated.

  1. Identity Theft and Identity Fraud
  2. FTC: About Identity Theft
  3. Phishing Fraud: How to Avoid Getting Fried by Phony Phishermen
  4. Protecting Yourself From Phishing Scams
  5. Types of Online Fraud
  6. What Is Cyberbullying Exactly?
  7. Cyberbullying and Harassment
  8. 5 Things You Need to Know About Cyberbullying
  9. Internet Crime Prevention Tips

Protect Your Computer

Parents can keep their families safe and prevent damage to their computers from viruses and malware by taking several precautions. Downloaded files can contain viruses that ruin a computer or put a person's identity at risk. Parents should have their children ask permission before they download anything so that the parent can check out the website and make sure it is not suspicious or risky. Anti-virus and anti-malware software offer another layer of protection. These programs will scan files and alert the user to any viruses. They will also remove the virus.

Creating separate user accounts is another way that parents can protect their computers. Children should be given limited user accounts, which cannot download software or alter hardware on the computer. Another option is to have separate computers. The parent may wish to have a computer that is only used for paying bills or work and a computer that is used for games or fun. If the gaming computer is compromised, they will not lose all their work or compromise their information.

For further protection, the computer should be kept up-to-date. New viruses and spyware are being created all the time. An older system will not be able to defend against these threats. People should also shut their computers down when not in use or at least remove the Internet connection, so that threats and attacks do not occur when the computer owner's back is turned.

  1. FBI: Protect Your Computer
  2. Tips for Protecting the Home Computer
  3. Tools for Safe and Secure Computing

Protect Personal Information

There are specific rules that websites must follow when it comes to asking for children's personal information. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act regulates what information websites can collect from kids under the age of 13. With COPPA, the websites have to post a privacy policy and specifically state what they will do with the information they collect. To keep their kid's information secure, parents should always read the privacy policy of any website before allowing their children to put in their personal information. Parents can also ask the website to remove or delete personal information.

Parents can further protect kids and teens by reminding them not to share any information, from phone numbers to addresses or even last names in some cases, with strangers online. They should not send photographs of themselves to stranger or put pictures up on a public website. A lot of kids also share their passwords with friends or others. To protect data, parents should stress the importance of not letting anyone else know passwords. Kids should also be reminded not to enter passwords on public computers or to write a password in an email message.

  1. Guide to Online Protection
  2. How to Protect Your Child's Privacy Online
  3. Internet Safety Rules to Protect Your Child Online
  4. Top 12 Ways to Protect Your Online Privacy
  5. COPPA- Children's Online Privacy Protection Act
  6. Reporting Computer, Internet-Related, or Intellectual Property Crime
  7. Home Network Security

Protect Your Kids

Parents can keep their kids safe online in two ways. They can teach their kids the proper way to behave while using the Internet and they can closely keep an eye on the websites a child visits. If the child uses the same computer as the parent, the parent can review the child's browsing history to make sure they are not visiting dangerous or inappropriate websites. Many web browsers also have features that allow parents to block certain websites.

Open communication between parents and kids is also key to keeping them safe online. Parents should talk to their kids about what they do online. They should also tell their kids that they are there to listen if anything unpleasant happens on a social networking site or over email If a child wants to meet a person that they have only interacted with online, the parent should meet the person before the kid does.

Other ways parents can keep their kids safe is by putting the computer in a room that the entire family has access to, instead of in the child's bedroom. Parents need to be aware of the different devices kids can use to access the Internet, from tablets to smart phones, and take steps to monitor those devices as well. It is possible to put a limit on the amount of data a person downloads on a phone each month, for example.

  1. Basic Internet Safety for Kids
  2. Internet Safety
  3. Safety Net
  4. Growing Up Online
  5. Internet Filters Tips

Additional Resources

  1. Identity Theft Reported by Households, 2005-2010
  2. Online Safety Guide
  3. Net Smartz Parents and Guardians
  4. Teens: Stay Smart Online
  5. Advice and Tips for Staying Safe Online
  6. Internet Safety Lesson Plans Grades 3-12
  7. Parent/Child Internet Agreement (PDF)