Just as important as being financially literate, is being cyber savvy. While April is the month to focus on teaching children the importance of saving, it wouldn’t hurt to also teach them how to be safe online. After all, as an adult yourself, you’re always trying to protect your finances from various threats, including cyber ones. While being safe online may seem like a complex idea for children, there are easy ways to get them to start thinking of how to protect themselves online.
Here are 4 tips to initiate your child’s cyber-safe future:
- “Don’t talk to strangers online.” Your children have already been told not to talk to strangers unless you tell them it’s ok. That’s why it’s an easy addition to the rule to never communicate with a person that they don’t know while online. Scammers can view children as easy, unsuspecting targets so understanding the basics of ignoring potential threats at an early age is beneficial to both you and your child’s personal information.
- “Only go on sites you have been on before with your parents.” If you set a rule that your child is only allowed to go on sites owned by Disney, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network, etc., then chances will increase that they will not journey to malicious websites on your computer, phone, or tablet. It may also benefit you to set stricter Parental Controls on your devices.
- “Never join or enter anything unless your parents say that it’s okay.” Contest, giveaways, or clubs geared towards children are a prime way to target a child’s interest into signing up for a fictitious event. (Even adults could fall for a contest to win a season pass to Disney World.) If a contest sounds too good to be true, it usually is. If your child asks to join or enter something, make sure you do your own research before giving them permission.
- “Do not open emails or answer texts from anyone other than your friends and family.” Phishing attacks continue to be a popular way to steal personal information, including credit/debit cards and passwords. A child who doesn’t yet comprehend the importance of cyber security, may fall for a variety of promotions or emails from an unknown source asking them to click on a link or PDF that they have sent. If you’d like to take an extra step to be safer online, have your child ask permission to open any email or text even if it is from a trusted loved one. It’s easy for a scammer to fake an account, so those too can be malicious.
- “If you feel like you have done something that may have broken one of the first four rules, tell your parents immediately.” If your child has given away personal information online, to a suspicious source, contact your financial institution, the police, and file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
You can learn more tips for teaching your children about cyber security on the Department of Homeland Security’s website.
For current security alerts and more tips on how to protect yourself against identity theft, scams, or other security threats, visit our Security and Privacy page.
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If you’d like to set up an account for your child, check out Align’s suite of Youth Accounts page.