These days, we’re all spending more time than usual on the web — and this goes for kids and teens, too. As a parent, you want to make sure that your kids have a safe experience every time they are online. There is plenty to be wary of on the Internet, too. Not only are there viruses and hackers who can steal your information, but there are also cyberbullies, inappropriate content, and online predators that target kids and teens.
Kids and teens need to use the internet to research school assignments, communicate with teachers and other students, play interactive games, and complete other essential tasks. It can be a wonderful place to learn and socialize. But parents need to be aware of what their kids see and hear on the Internet, who they meet, and what they share about themselves. To help you make sure your kids have a safe online experience, here are some guidelines to follow.
Kids and teens use the Internet in different ways and for a variety of purposes as they grow up, and every age group comes with its own parental concerns and activities to regulate. But there are also some general guidelines that are good to keep in mind for kids and teens of all ages.
Many of the websites your kids use require usernames and passwords. Make sure they know not to give this information out to anyone — even to friends. People might not mean any harm, but even well-intentioned pranks can go awry and get your kids in trouble. Keep usernames and passwords private and be sure to change passwords if you suspect anyone has gotten ahold of them.
In addition to reminding your kids to keep their passwords private, it's also a good idea to change them all intermittently. Data breaches happen all the time and passwords get leaked, exposing you to threats of identity theft and other cybersecurity issues. Set up a schedule to change passwords on your accounts every 3-6 months or anytime accounts or platforms report hacking or data breaches. You can use a password manager to keep track of all your passwords online and make it easy for your kids to find them.
Kids and teens should never tell anyone their full real name, address, neighborhood, phone number, etc. online. The general rule is to never give out any information that could lead a predator to find them. Even small details like the name of their school or sports team are enough to give away their identity. If your kids use any sites, like social media platforms, that allow strangers to contact them, make sure they know to keep this information private.
Speaking of social media platforms, they require extra care and consideration for kids and teens. The internet is vast, yes, but embarrassing pictures, rude comments, and personal information can leave a strong mark — and often a permanent one. Remind your kids that anything they post online immediately becomes public property and anyone can view it. Even private accounts get leaked or attacked by hackers occasionally. You don’t want anything coming back to haunt your kids in the years to come, so encourage them to be discerning about what they post.
Kaspersky Safe Kids helps you protect your kids when they are online. You can use it on all of your child’s devices. It includes an app on the device plus an app on your phone, which lets you see reports and customize settings. It has parental controls built into the software and it even allows you to manage their screen time by device.
Many apps and websites have their own age restrictions to set up accounts, browse, or become a member. But the problem is that most of these sites don’t actually have age verification in place to check. For instance, Facebook, Snapchat, and Myspace only allow users 13 and up, but kids can just report a false age and sign up anyway.
Almost every app and website these days have some kind of geo-tagging or location-sharing feature. Kids and teens need to know the dangers of sharing their location so they don’t agree to this term or unknowingly click the pop-up boxes that allow it. Making their location publicly visible leaves them exposed to all kinds of dangerous behaviors, from online predators who can find them to risks of identity theft. Make sure kids know what it means when apps ask if they can share location.
One of the best ways to manage Internet use for kids of all ages is to sit with them and come up with a list of Internet rules specific to your needs. You can introduce them to kid- and teen-friendly sites, talk to them about why it’s important to put rules in place, and encourage them to tell you if they feel uncomfortable or threatened by anything they find on the Internet, etc. Set boundaries, but be realistic.
Teach your kids and teens that the Golden Rule applies just as much to online interactions as it does to face-to-face communication. Kids should be kind and polite when interacting with people online or leaving comments and should say nothing over text they wouldn’t say to someone’s face. Teach them that this applies even if they are posting anonymously. Not only is it hurtful and inconsiderate to others to post mean or unflattering things, but it can also damage your child's reputation.
Set up and review parental controls on all your devices at age-appropriate levels. These controls help protect children from accessing inappropriate content online. You can use them in several ways — for example, to help ensure that your children access only age-appropriate content, to set usage times, to monitor activity, and to prevent the sharing of personal information. You can also use filtering and monitoring tools on top of parental controls. Check these periodically to make sure you have the software updated, etc. Learn about potentially dangerous apps and websites for kids.
In addition to parental controls, run antivirus software on all your devices. This software protects internet-enabled devices from incoming threats and seeks out, destroys, and warns of possible 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.
Talk to your kids about Adware and other fake ad scams they might encounter on the Internet. Some of these ads look like real offers that might entice kids to download a fake app, sign up for a sweepstake, or offer personal information in exchange for free products. They can also come in the form of links to share with friends or post on social networks. If kids know that these types of ads and scams exist, they'll be less likely to fall for them if they run into them online.
Kids should never meet up with strangers they met online unless you are there to supervise the meeting. Teach your kids and teens not to interact with people they don’t know offline. Online predators or cyberbullies can disguise themselves so your kids might not know they are talking to someone who found them online.
For all ages, it’s a good idea to periodically spot-check your browser history to get a sense of what sites your kids and teens are visiting. Make sure that your settings have history tracking enabled and that you check it across all Internet-enabled devices. If you come across any fishy sites, ask your kids or teens about them. Make sure you have maximum transparency about monitoring their usage so they don't feel spied on.
In addition to general guidelines, there are also some age-specific guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to the internet.
Keeping your kids safe online is just as important as keeping them safe when they are interacting with the world face-to-face. There are so many reasons kids want and need to use the Internet these days, from researching school assignments to attending virtual events to extracurricular learning to interactive gaming with friends. The internet can be a rich resource and an exciting place to hang out as long as kids and teens know how to use it safely and avoid any dangers they might encounter.
Practicing online safety means talking to your kids consistently about how and why they use the Internet and making sure that you have a safety protocol in place to protect them. Understanding why your kids and teens go online, who they interact with, and what sites they visit is an important part of ensuring their safety. It's also crucial to educate them as to the risks of surfing the Internet, how to safely and politely interact online, and what to do if they encounter something inappropriate.
Talk with your kids, use tools to protect them, and monitor their activities. Use Kaspersky Internet Security to minimize any potential threats online, including malware, spyware and trojans. The Total Security Suite also offers bank-grade protection for your online payments while keeping your data safe with a VPN. Discover today how Kaspersky can help you protect your family from potential threats online.