While the Internet is an excellent social networking tool for young people, it can be dangerous. Predators can use it to anonymously get in touch with children. They will often adopt a false identity, befriend and gain the trust of children or young people so that they can meet them in person.
The term “lure” describes dangerous activities that an adult can engage in online with a child, including encouraging a child to disclose personal details about themselves or their family members, sending photos, or meeting him/her in person. Sending photos over the Internet, even to a family member, can pose a risk because an exploiter may intercept the photos and use them to nefarious ends.
Warning Signs of a Risk to the Safety of Your Child Online
- Your child spends a lot of time online, especially at night, and refuses to tell you what he or she is doing or who he or she is talking to.
- You find pornographic material on your child’s computer.
- Your child receives phone calls from adults you do not know or makes calls, sometimes long distance, to phone numbers that you do not recognize.
- Your child asks for a webcam or takes your webcam to a more private place.
- Your child receives mail, gifts or parcels from someone you do not know.
- When you enter the room, your child turns off the computer screen or changes the screen quickly.
- Your child is retiring from family activities.
- Your child uses someone else’s online account.
Tips for parents to protect the safety of their children online
One of the most important things you can do to keep your children safe online is to talk to them before someone else does it. By setting guidelines, explaining the potential dangers of the Internet, and supervising the younger children who use it, parents and caregivers can greatly reduce the risk that their child will have an encounter (online or off) with a predator.
10 Cybersecurity Tips for Parents and Caregivers
Here are 10 safety tips that will help you prepare your kids for the Internet:
- Talk to your kids about online safety.
- Set family guidelines concerning Internet use, as you would for other activities.
- Be proactive in monitoring your child’s internet usage and who they contact.
- Put the computer in a room where it can be accessible to everyone.
- Never reveal personal information online.
- Tell your children never to post pictures of themselves for people they do not know. Explain to your child that any content sent over the Internet will remain there forever.
- Emphasize that people they meet online are not necessarily who they seem.
- Remember to use parental controls, such as filters or blocking software.
- Promote an open dialogue with your children if they have any concerns or feel unsafe.
- Address constructively the issue of the appropriate websites your children can access.
Security tips on social networking sites
Social networks are very popular among young people. Most have privacy settings that limit access. Make sure your child’s or youth’s privacy settings are set up so that only those who know them have access to their information. Explain that they should never accept an invitations from people they do not know, even if that person claims to be a friend of a friend.
Make your children aware of the risks of phishing.
You may be computer savvy enough to not click on a URL purporting to be from your bank or a friend, but are all members of your family? Teach your children what phishing is and ask them not to click URLs contained in any emails or messages from social networks. Obtain a security program that recognizes and blocks suspicious URLs.
Use a password management system.
For most of us, passwords are the first line of defense against hackers, and it’s no secret that they are often not secure enough. Strengthen your protection with a password management program. The main advantage of these systems is that you only have to remember one password.
Identify threats within your own home.
Your home WiFi network is an access point for hackers. Adopt a hard-to-guess password and use security software that identifies any “intruders” on the network. Be cautious connecting to public WiFi
Talk about online safety with your children.
Children often know very little about cybersecurity. Utilize security software to prevent your children from clicking on a dangerous links or accessing inappropriate websites. Talk to them about suspicious online activities and encourage them to ask for help if something seems to be wrong.