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The Resource Center Child Identity Theft & Protection The Resource Center | article

Talk To Your Kids About Online Security Today

We protect our kids from injury when we make them wear bike helmets or look both ways when crossing the street, and it's just as important to talk to them about identity protection and safe online practices.

Talk to your children about identity protection and safe online practices.

The sooner kids learn about internet safety, the better habits they will develop and the better protected they will be.

Growing up in today's world is a unique experience. Children now have web-based technology incorporated into their play and learning time from the moment they're coordinated enough to hold a tablet. In many ways, technology is a wonderful educational tool. It can enhance hand-eye coordination in very young children and provide an invaluable research portal for older ones.

However, technology also comes with its own pitfalls and inherent dangers, so it's crucial for parents to start an ongoing conversation with their children about safe internet practices. The sooner kids learn about internet safety, the better habits they will develop and the better protected they will be.

  • Be password safe: Teach your kids to use a different password for each social media or email account they operate. Have a conversation about why they should never reveal their passwords to other people and how strong passwords can protect your identity.
  • Be wary of limits: All Internet service providers offer censoring options for parents and children that limit which websites kids can access. However, instead of blocking sites, it may be better to talk to your kids about how to tell trustworthy applications from untrustworthy ones. Remember, they will always be able to find an unblocked computer to use, so it's preferable to work on instilling safe habits rather than blocking unsuitable material.
  • Clean your machine: Install anti-virus software on your family's computer and make sure all systems are regularly updated.
  • Establish privacy settings: Discuss together what privacy settings should be implemented on each social media site. Talk about why you might want some information shielded from public view. This is a great opportunity to teach them about identity theft and what precautions can be taken.
  • Grant freedom: As your kids get older and show greater responsibility, give them more freedom in their web activity. Continue to have conversations about web behavior, but try not to limit their boundaries. Giving them space to make safe choices will build their confidence levels and prepare them to enter the adult technological world prepared and knowledgeable.
  • Remain updated: Stay up-to-date with the latest social media sites so that you have an idea of what applications your child might be accessing. Talk to them about the most recent safety issues that have arisen and what might be done to minimize risk.
  • Stay private: Explain that by sharing your location, full name or too much specific information online you could be putting yourself at risk, and that you should also be sensitive to what information you share about your friends and family.
  • Talk about uploading and posting: Make sure your child understands that anything shared digitally, even if it is "privately" sent, will be considered public material. Talk to them about the fact that future employers will one day look at their social media history, and that they shouldn't post anything that could damage friendships, reveal private information or cause potential embarrassment.
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