The task of protecting our children online is a challenge that grows in complexity every day. Just a few years ago, parents mostly worried about the risks of “stranger danger” and online predators. Recently, research from the Harvard University-based Berkman Center downgraded online predators to a much lower risk category, but we still have many online risks to educate our children about. Below are ten things you can do to today to improve your families safety:
1. Use an Internet security suite, like Norton 360 or Norton Internet Security, on all computers you own. Using plain antivirus is just not enough protection. You need a full firewall, antispyware, and other protection a suite can provide.
2. Keep your home network secured with a good password and security settings.
3. Learn to avoid clicking links, responding to ads, and opening emails when they come from someone you don’t know or appear suspicious. Just take that extra moment to call your friend (“Did you post that link?”), type the URL for your bank, or otherwise display your worldly wisdom by not falling for these social engineering tricks.
4. Use a good password (unique and complex) on all accounts and devices. The two most important account passwords are for your social network and your email account. If a hacker gets control of your social network, he can scam your friends. If he has your email, he can reset the password on all your other accounts by using the ubiquitous “forgot my password” link.
5. Talk to your kids about avoiding cybercrime. They need to be just as cautious as you. It’s also important that they know if they can talk to you when they make an online mistake, like falling for a scamware alert and downloading something dangerous to the computer. Many kids are savvy enough to realize when they’ve downloaded a virus, but few are comfortable admitting their mistake to their parents.
6. Advise your kids never to share passwords, not even with a close friend. If they think they did, they should change the password.
7. Teach your children to log out of computers when they finish their work, even at home. This will prevent a friend or sibling from posting or emailing using their account–even as a joke.
8. Use the security and privacy settings on your social network and all accounts to limit who can access your posts.
9. Learn about parental control settings for your phones, gaming devices, tablets, and all computers. A great tool is the free Norton Family for PCs and Macs.
10. Talk to your kids regularly about how to use technology. Set rules and limits, and keep technology out in the open. Learn about “The Talk,” and make it an annual discussion, or for whenever you introduce new technology into your family life.
*excerpts of this article taken from online safety for kids at www.norton.com