Amidst all the trips to the beach, family vacations, and picnics this summer, children will also spend an increased amount of time on the Internet. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, children and teenagers aged 8-18 spend almost 8 hours a day on electronic devices. This summer, the Stop.Think.Connect. ™ campaign is encouraging parents to take a few minutes to talk with their children about Internet safety.
While increased connectivity has led to significant transformations and advances across our country – and around the world – it also has increased the importance and complexity of our shared risk. For children, this includes cyber bullying, cyber predators, and other threats. The Cyber Bullying Research Center says that about half of young people have experienced some form of cyber bullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly. The Internet makes it easy for rumors, threats, and photos to be easily disseminated, without realizing the harm it can cause someone else.
Parents, teachers, and guardians can begin taking steps to protect children online by creating an open environment where they feel comfortable reporting abuses over the Internet. Here are some additional tips from the Stop.Think.Connect.™ campaign:
- Be aware of what social networks your kids and teens use and how much information they share. They should never share addresses, birthdays, schools, and last names with strangers;
- Teach your kids how to conduct searches safely, by using specific and narrow search terms on commonly-used search engines to prevent unwanted and malicious results;
- Install filters and firewalls to manage what sites your kids can access;
- Set strong passwords that are different on every site; and
- Remind your children not to say anything online about someone else that they would not want them to said about them.
At the end of the day, cybersecurity is ultimately about people and is a shared responsibility. We are all called on to ACT or Achieve Cybersecurity Together. For more information, please visit www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.