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4 Simple Steps to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

June 07, 2018

4 Simple Steps to Keep Your Kids Safe Online 

From smartphones and social media to Google searches and online gaming, technology plays a significant role in our children’s everyday lives. Because they’re so knowledgeable about the latest trends and products – not to mention the fact that they’ve probably had to help us set up a profile or two – there’s a temptation for us to view our kids as experts on all things Internet. 

But while they navigate the nuances of digital life with ease, that familiarity can lead to overconfidence in their own ability to stay safe online. Fortunately, we don’t have to be Internet experts to help our kids sidestep online pitfalls. We just have to be involved. 

Wondering what you can do? Here are four practical tips to help your children stay safe online:

1. Keep your eyes open. 

Remember when your little ones used to close their eyes and say, “You can’t see me!”? It may have been cute, but that didn’t mean it was true. Online safety is much the same. Cyber threats won’t go away just because we close our eyes and pretend they don’t exist. When we take time to understand the risks associated with online interactions, we can prepare ourselves to help our children avoid those dangers.

2. Stay involved.

Believe it or not, Internet usage doesn’t have to be a point of contention. Rather than operating as a roadblock for your child’s online access, try acting as a tour guide instead. This approach is especially helpful for younger children. Surf the Web with them. Help them identify sites or apps they like. Encourage their positive choices. If repetition aids learning (and it does), joining children in their online adventures offers parents a steady supply of educational opportunities. 

3. Be proactive. Be secure.

Good intentions and smart decisions can only provide so much protection. Effective safeguarding often requires securing the devices and connections your children use to access the Internet. Installing firewalls and virus protection is essential, but beyond that, it may be beneficial to utilize customizable software that allows you to establish age-appropriate protections for your children. If you’re not sure what software is best for your situation, the experts at PC Magazine compiled a helpful guide to help you decide.

4. Know the signs of identity theft.

As the popularity of digital commerce increases, so does the risk of identity theft. In addition to teaching children the importance of not sharing their personal information online, it’s also essential to watch for signs that their identity may have been compromised. 

Warning signs include:

  1. Unsolicited mail or phone calls from marketers
  2. IRS notices or junk mail addressed to your child
  3. Collection calls for services you or your child did not receive
  4. Pre-approved credit offers in your child’s name 

If you suspect your child’s identity has been stolen, check with the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) to determine whether a credit report exists under your child’s name. If you determine fraudulent activity exists, you can file an FTC report online or by calling 877-438-4338. 

For additional information on how to protect your children against identity theft, click here