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You teach your children to wear helmets when they ride bikes and sunscreen when they’re outside, but are you also teaching them to be safe online? June is Internet Safety Month, a perfect opportunity to talk with your kids about online safety.
Summer break is here, which means kids are starting to spend more free time online and on mobile devices. Children run into all sorts of risks in the cyber world, including cyberbullying, inappropriate content, online predators, and cyber criminals seeking to steal their personal information. It’s important for parents to know how to keep their children safe from these threats online. As summer vacation kicks off, the Department of Homeland Security encourages you to share these five online safety tips with your children:
- Don’t share too much information. Create a list of things your kids should never post or share online – like their birthday and year, full name, address, and phone number – and make sure they understand why it is important to keep this information private.
- Be careful about what you post. The Internet isn’t private. Once your kids share a post, picture, or video, they can’t control how others will use it, and it can never be permanently deleted. Teach them be thoughtful and cautious in what they post and share online.
- Only connect with people you know. “Don’t talk to strangers” is a good rule for the real world and the cyber world. Predators and stalkers can easily create fake profiles to hide their identities, so instruct your kids to only connect with friends they actually know in real life. Also check your children’s privacy settings to make sure strangers can’t see their profiles. Sometimes privacy settings get reset to default settings during program updates, so check their profiles regularly.
- Keep your location private. Many apps, networks, and devices have geo-tagging features which broadcast your location. This information could lead a stalker directly to your kids, so check that these features are completely off.
- Protect your password. Show your kids how to create strong passwords and make sure they know to never share them with anyone (except their parents or a trusted adult).
If you’d like to learn more about protecting your children online, check out the “Chatting with Kids about Being Online” Booklet from the Stop.Think.Connect.™ Campaign.
The Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI), a Stop.Think.Connect.™ Campaign National Network partner, provides a wealth of resources about being a good digital parent. On their website, you’ll find research, advice, videos, and guides to help you have impactful conversations with your kids about online safety. Visit www.FOSI.org for more information and resources for your family.
For more tips on how to stay safe online, please visit the Department of Homeland Security’s Stop.Think.Connect.™ Campaign at www.dhs.gov/stopthinkconnect.