6 Security Tips To Protect Kids & Teens From Cyber Crimes
Children and teens can be vulnerable to cybercrimes. Developing a safety strategy and having basic rules around the use of computers, mobile devices, and cell phones are very important.
Cybercrime is becoming more and more prevalent these days and there are all sorts of insidious ways that criminals can take advantage of you and your family.
With so many kids having mobile devices and computers, they become more vulnerable and can expose themselves, their siblings, and even their parents, to predators and hackers. First and foremost, having good communication with your children is paramount to developing proper protocols to build a solid foundation for proper online behaviour.
6 reasons why children and teens can be vulnerable online, and some good tips on how to help keep them safe from hackers and online predators.
1: Downloading videos and use of video-sharing sites like YouTube.
Some of these sites may contain malicious links, easily clicked and often difficult from which to escape.
- As mentioned, it’s important to have a dialogue and talk to your children about these sorts of incidents. You need to ask them if they’ve ever seen links that have, or could, take them to inappropriate or illegal content on other sites. Ask them what they do when they encounter this type of thing and discuss proper ways to deal with these links if they aren’t what they claim.
2. Joining popularity sites that promise to get you new friends or show you “who has a crush on you”.
Young people, especially teens, need to be wary of sites that have links that promise to make them a new friend, or lure them with tag lines like “who has a crush on you” or ” who’s talking about you”. Dating or gossip sites that look like invites from friends are also tempting and many bogus sites can be cleverly disguised. Even ads can also link kids to content that isn’t appropriate, or scams and third-party sites that have the potential to capture sensitive information.
- You can sign up for specific services, some free, that rate Google search results and indicate whether they are legitimate.
3: Unsupervised use of family computers.
Of course, most kids don’t have things like credit cards, but their online activities can affect other family members who do, as well as other financial information on the computer. Any info about online shopping, banking, or work, which parents conduct at home is vulnerable. Another consideration is to remember that kids may check browser history, clicking on something previously viewed and subsequently exposing them to sites their parents may have visited on the family computer.
- Develop rules about what activities are permissible on your computers and keep the family devices in an area that can be supervised. Regularly check in with children and teens who are using computers and other such devices. Also, regularly clearing your browser history and emptying your cache may slow things down for you but can prevent children from inadvertently opening things they shouldn’t.
4: Children and teens have identifications that are valuable to thieves.
Identities that are free and clear of debt and have no “history” are a target of criminals. With enough information about a child, such as a name, address and social security number, thieves can apply for credit or commit a crime using the child’s name. Children are very likely to have clean and perfect credit, since they don’t borrow money and won’t be late in paying, making them prime targets for hackers. Unfortunately, they usually won’t find out that their identity has been compromised until much later, perhaps years down the road when they want to apply for student loans or credit cards for example.
- Be very careful about what personal information is posted online, such as social media sites like Facebook, and have strict rules about sharing this information with other people online.
5: Kids are social.
Being social online exposes kids to social hacking situations and potentially on-line bullying. Friends don’t always stay as friends forever and passwords that were once shared can be used to allow access to social media accounts and engagement in online bullying, posting of embarrassing photos or messages, or spreading spam and malicious links.
- Kids need to know that they should never share passwords, even with their closest friends.
- Just as important is to remember to never leave your devices unattended and to always close out of accounts when they’re finished using computers, especially those shared with other people, such as at school or public libraries.
- Also, teach kids that browsers and cookies “remember” passwords unless you use the browser’s “private” or “incognito” mode, and it is necessary to delete your cookies and history regularly.
6: Kids and teens are often the most fervent fans.
Kids and teens can be very devoted and ardent fans, plus have more time to follow and chat online about their favorite t.v., movie and sports celebrities. There are lots of legit celebrity sites, and the ones operated by the celebrities themselves or entertainment news publishers can be fine, but kids need to be extra wary of non-official fan sites. Non-official sites can turn up in search results but aren’t actually run by the celebrities and it certainly isn’t always easy to tell.
- Teach kids to watch for and be wary of sites that typically show up lower down in the search results, and to be extra cautious when not sure of a sites’ status.
It is important to have good communication with children and teens about all aspects of life, including issues with the internet, the use of computers and online activities, and the power and pitfalls of social media. Developing rules and strong protocols to be used by all members of the family will go a long way in protecting everyone, particularly those most innocent and naive.