The Internet is one of the best gifts that Science technology presented to humans. And like science can be bane and boon, so is the thing with the internet. The Internet can be benefitting in more than numerous ways and can also be dangerous if not handled cautiously. While the internet has given us ease of carrying out different personal and professional tasks, however, as everything, from shopping, audio/video chatting, carrying out business to playing games and sharing information is done using the internet, this has also increased the vulnerability of data and money theft manifold time.
According to a report it has been found that the rate of ID theft is 51% higher for kids compared to adults. Every year, more than one million children’s IDs get stolen by cyber-criminals. Other threats, such as cyber-bullying, and child predation are even more common, and the rates keep on rising every year. If you are looking for essential tips for internet safety for kids, you would like to go through the information provided below.
Guide to Keep Your Kids Safe on the Internet
- Have Conversation with your Kids
When introducing your kid to the internet for the first time, you should begin talking with your kid about Internet safety. The more and in an easy way, you will talk about potential risks and dangers present online, the more your kids will be able to identify potential threats and counter them accordingly.
Ask your kid to inform you when they notice anything upsetting or they don’t understand while surfing on the internet. Ensure that you won’t judge them or withdraw the privileges if they were surfing on an unapproved site. Although, you must correct your kid for breaking the rules, however, it shouldn’t make them afraid of talking about something they read, saw, or experienced online.
- Educate and Warn Kids about Predator Tactics
Kids who visit chat rooms or use social networking sites are known to be more vulnerable to becoming a victim of child predators. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to warn and educate your kids about the tactics these predators generally use to lure them into sharing information, and/or meeting in person. There are numerous software programs that provide useful information in identifying cyber-bullying on any device. You can use them to keep your kids safe on the internet.
- Know About the Laws
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has provided guidelines about the writing the Children’s Online Privacy and Protection Act (COPPA), which protects the personal information of children and prevents applications and websites that are especially focussed at children under the age of 13 from “phishing” for personal information without a parent’s knowledge. This personal information usually comprises such as name, address, photos, and IP address.
To know its functioning, suppose that your kid wishes to download an app that requires their personal information. Before a kid can continue with the process, the parent gets a notification informing them about it. The notification clearly shows what information this website or app wishes to collect, and what it is going to do with this information. When the parents get the notification, they will need to allow permission before the child can proceed to download the app.
If you allow permission and once the information gets collected, you can still keep things in control. You can ask anytime to see the information. Moreover, you also have the option to withdraw your consent and ask for deleting the information.
While COPPA offers excellent protection for children, however, the law is only applicable to applications and websites that are specifically for younger children. In case your child visits a site geared towards teens or adults, COPPA will not be applicable.
- Try to Keep Computer in Common Areas
It is quite difficult for you to know what your kids are surfing on the internet if they’re surfing the Internet on a laptop or desktop in their room. The simple solution to such a situation is that keep your Internet-enabled laptops, desktops, and other devices in the common area of your home. These spaces can be your living room or kitchen.
- Use Parental Control Filters
Some of the popular web browsers like Google Chrome, Apple Safari, and Internet Explorer come with parental controls, which once enabled, will allow you to form particular guidelines that describe what your kid can look at and download, and what things they can’t.
Moreover, if you and your kid use an Android device, you can download the Family Link app. This application is developed by Google, allowing you to use all of the parental controls usually found in popular web browsers. The additional benefit of Family Link is that it allows parents to remotely lock and unlock the device of their child at specific times. Also, you get weekly or monthly activity reports that show which websites your child has visited and how much time is spent on each site.
- Provide Information Carefully
Some of the centers such as schools, doctor’s offices, and after-school activities and clubs also ask for very personal information, which also includes the Social Security Number of your child. So, it is suggested to always ask the office or organization why such detail is needed before you give out any information. Also, make sure to ask how they keep this information secure. Never be afraid to withhold the information of your child if you do not wish to share it.
- Freeze Credit Report of your Child
Identity theft can happen to any child, regardless of his or her age. If your kid has a Social Security number, they are vulnerable to becoming a victim of identity theft. One of the reasons why children are at such high risk for identity theft is because they have a clean slate. Moreover, as it will take a long time before a kid requires a credit card, the theft of their identity will go unnoticed for years. In such a case, the best way to keep the financial identity of your child safe is by freezing their credit report.
- Know About FERPA
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) is a federal privacy law that covers the personal information of a kid at school. This information includes transcripts, family contact information, and disciplinary reports. As per FERPA, a school will need to inform parents whenever they wish to share such information of kids. The consent should also be provided in writing. Also, whenever a parent asks the school to get access to these records, they will need to allow them to check it.
While FERPA does offer protection of your child’s personal information, school officials do not have to receive parental consent to share information in these four cases:
- Disclosures made to another school at which the student wishes to enroll.
- Disclosures made to school officials with rightful educational interests.
- Disclosures made to local or state education authorities for evaluating or auditing federal- or state-supported education programs, or imposing federal laws related to those programs.
- Disclosures of information that school has provided as “directory information”.
- Avoid Sharing Personal Information With Family Members
According to USA Today, family members are responsible for more than 30% of child ID thefts. Therefore, it is suggested to ensure that all documents that contain the personal information of your kids are locked safely whenever friends or family members come to babysit or spend time with your kid. If you have teens, make sure to keep their wallets or purse away in a secure place.
- Discuss What to Share and What Not to
Another thing that your kids need to understand is what things are appropriate to share online, and what isn’t. For example, your teen might be happy about receiving his or her first driver’s license and may wish to post its pictures on social media. In such a case, you must refrain your kid from sharing it online as this is a document that contains important information that should never be shared with others. Other similar documents information which your kids shouldn’t disclose with anyone are their bank account or credit card. Information such as a home address, birth date, current location, phone number, vacation itineraries, or medical history should never be posted online.
11. Ensure Extra Precautions Against Cyber-bullying
According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, 34% of middle school children have been a victim of cyberbullying. Adolescent girls are targeted more often (37%) compared to boys (31%). Not only Cyberbullying affect the self-esteem and morale of kids, but it can also lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide.
Cyber-bullying generally includes the following:
- Sending hateful messages or emails.
- Pretending to hide your actual identity, opening up a social networking account with that false identity, and spreading false information.
- Sharing damaging and embarrassing photographs online.
- Spreading rumors through text messages and social networking sites.
- Stealing password or login information on social media account and spreading damaging information.
- Spreading sexually suggestive videos, pictures or messages.
11) Look for the Warning Signs
According to reports, most of the kids who face cyber-bullying don’t share it with anyone and this is the reason that you must be aware of the warning signs. Some of these warning signs can be:
- Your kid losing interest in their devices.
- Your kid appearing nervous when using his/her devices.
- Losing interest in school, or looking anxious or nervous when going to school.
- Your kid becoming secretive about their online activities.
- Spending more time with family instead of friends.
- Not involving with friends and families.
- Finding your kids angry or upset when going online.
12) Know About State and School Policy
While a lot of states have formed policies and mandates to handle the rise in cyber-bullying activities, however, most of them are without formal frameworks or instructions. This leaves schools on their own to form a plan to tackle such fraudulent activities. In addition to this, most of the states don’t even provide any funding to the schools for implementing anti-cyber-bullying strategies which again makes schools to arrange money on their own.
Such lack of support puts schools in a position as to how far to go with the policies they are looking to implement. Let’s take an example, suppose a student is using school resources like tablets or laptops to bully another student, he/she can be disciplined for misusing school properties, however, in case a student is bullying another student using his/her device, after school hours, how to discipline the student in such situation?
Numerous schools have been sued for over disciplining a student for involving in cyber-bullying activities when it wasn’t warranted, similarly, some schools have been sued for not stepping in soon enough to take action against students involved in cyber-bullying. These incidents occurred because most of the administrators had no guidance when it came to disciplining students for such fraudulent activities that take place outside school boundaries.
Although it’s an ill-defined situation, schools are making efforts to enact meaningful policies to address and prevent cyber-bullying. Considering these factors, it is important to understand the current policy of the school and talk to administrators directly if you notice that your child is being bullied.
13) Discuss with Your Children about Their Online Behavior
Numerous children and teens engage in cyber-bullying behaviors without realizing the seriousness of their actions. Therefore, you must discuss cyber-bullying with your kids: what its consequences are, and why it is intolerable.
Kids must be aware that their behavior online should be the same as they behave in the actual world. Tell your kids that if they wouldn’t do something face-to-face with someone, they shouldn’t even do it online as well. Teach them to spread only positive messages. Though they may have negative thoughts or feelings about someone at school, however, this doesn’t allow them to share their feelings online. It is your responsibility to teach and reinforce your kids with positive values such as empathy, kindness, and compassion.
So, these are the different tips that you can use to keep your kids safe when they surf the internet.