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Internet safety tips for kids of all ages

  • Bethwel Opil
  • Category Advice Column, Child, Lifestyle, Recently, Tech, Toddler, Tween & Teen, Tween & Teen Advice

During school holidays your children’s social media or interactive game time online may kick up a notch. As a parent, you want to make sure that they have a safe experience. Though the Internet can be a wonderful place to play and socialise, parents need to be aware of what their children see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves. Every age group – from toddlers to teens – comes with its own parental concerns. But there are some general guidelines that are good to keep in mind for children of all ages.

Keep usernames and passwords safe

Many of the websites your kids use require usernames and passwords. Make sure they know not to give this information to anyone – even their friends. Teach them to keep usernames and passwords private and change their passwords if you suspect they’ve been compromised. In fact, it’s best to change passwords intermittently as a matter of online hygiene. Every 3-6 months, or if accounts or platforms report hacking or data breaches, is a good habit for children to get into. 

Don’t give out personal information

Children should never tell anyone their full real name, address, neighbourhood, or phone number online. They should never share any information that could lead a predator to find them. Even small details like their school’s name or sports team are enough to give away their identity. 

Be discerning on social media

The Internet is vast, yes. But embarrassing pictures, rude comments, and personal information can leave a lasting, even permanent, mark. Remind your children that anything they post online immediately becomes public property and anyone can view it.

Check age requirements

Many apps and websites have age restrictions to set up accounts, browse, or join them. But they seldom actually have age verification in place. For instance, Facebook and Snapchat only allow users 13 and up, but signing up is as simple as filling in a false age.

Explain location sharing

Most apps and websites these days have some kind of geo-tagging or location-sharing feature. Children need to know the dangers of sharing their location – from online predators who can find them to identity theft – so they don’t agree to it or unknowingly click the pop-up boxes that allow it. 

Create a list of Internet rules

Sit with your children and make a list of Internet rules together. You can introduce them to kid- and teen-friendly sites, talk about why Internet rules are important, and encourage them to tell you if they feel uncomfortable or threatened by anything they find on the Internet. Set boundaries but be realistic.

Use the golden rule online, too

Teach your children that the golden rule applies just as much online as it does face-to-face. Children should be kind and polite to people online and should say nothing over text they wouldn’t say to someone’s face, even if they are posting anonymously. 

Explain fake ads

Talk to your children about Adware and similar scams they might encounter on the Internet. Often, these look like real offers to entice children to download a fake app, sign up for a sweepstake, or offer personal information in exchange for free products. They can be links to share with friends or post on social networks. If children know that these scams exist, they’ll be less likely to fall for them.

Educate children about meeting strangers in person

Children should never meet up with strangers they met online unless you are there to supervise the meeting. Teach them not to interact with people they don’t know offline. Online predators or cyberbullies can disguise themselves so your children might not know they are talking to someone who found them online.

Monitor Internet history

For all ages, it’s a good idea to spot-check your browser history to get a sense of what sites your children are visiting. Be completely transparent about checking their usage so they don’t feel spied on. Enable history tracking and check it across all Internet-enabled devices. If you come across any untoward  sites, ask your children about them. 

Set parental controls

Set up and review parental controls on all your devices at age-appropriate levels to protect children from accessing inappropriate content online. You can also use them to set usage times, monitor activity, and prevent the sharing of personal information. 

Run antivirus program

Run antivirus software on all your devices to protect them from incoming threats. It can also seek out, destroy, and warn of threats to the system. Antivirus software keeps up with the latest threats and stays on top of new viruses, which come out all the time.

Use a trusted cybersecurity solution

Cybersecurity tools, like Kaspersky Safe Kids, help you safeguard your children’s activities, monitor their behaviour and protect them when they are online. Choose one you can use on all your child’s devices, and that is flexible enough to change with them as their needs change and as they get older. 

Most importantly, talk with your children about how to use the Internet safely, the tools you use to protect them, and how and why you monitor their online activities. 

To support parents and guardians in keeping their children safe online, Kaspersky and Parenting Hub are giving 5 lucky readers a chance to win a license code to Kaspersky Safe Kids – a parental control software that helps to safeguard children’s activities online. You can enter this amazing give-away when you click here

By Bethwel Opil, Enterprise Sales Manager at Kaspersky in Africa

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