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How to teach your kids about cyber safety

How to teach your kids about cyber safetyUnlike when we were young, stranger danger is about a lot more than what happens in the real world. While it is important to ensure your child knows the age-old stranger danger concerns, it is equally important that they are equipped to protect themselves when on the Internet. Here’s a handy guide on teaching your children everything about cyber safety, from safe browsing habits through to suitable online security solutions like Your Digital File.

Explain Being Online

The first step is to teach children the extent of their online behaviour. Children are often more plugged in than we are; however, many are unaware that the tools that they are using are actually Internet-enabled. Your child needs to understand that they’re online when they’re browsing websites, playing games (on console, computer or mobile), social networking, instant messaging, chatting or reading blogs. It’s much easier to teach children safe online habits when they understand the scope of online behaviour.

Explain Personal Information

Most adults acknowledge that sharing personal information online is a bad idea. It can be harder to convince children though, as many don’t comprehend the difference between general information and personal information. Have a conversation with your child about personal information. Explain that any information about where they live, where they go and how to contact them is personal and shouldn’t be shared. Make a list of the information that counts as personal information (name, address, phone number, etc.) and keep this beside the computer.

It’s important that they also understand that personal information isn’t just accessed via text. Shared images can contain personal information – school logos on clothes, street signs, car registration numbers, etc. – that can be used for nefarious purposes.

Discuss the Issues

Children face a range of issues with their online behaviour – cyberbullying, reputation, identity theft, illegal content, offensive content, sexting, trolling and unwanted contact. Each issue has different circumstances, challenges and implications. Do some research to understand each of these issues yourself before sitting down to talk with your children. It is important to discuss these issues, as children are better able to protect themselves if they can recognise the risk they’re facing for what it is.

Social Security

The risks increase dramatically once older children become active on social media accounts. Whether they’re on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or any of the smaller networks, the increased social behaviour means there are more opportunities for risk. Ensure your children understand that what they do on social media sites has repercussions in the real world. They should only post comments and images that they would not be ashamed for you or their grandparents to see. Social media should never be used to spread lies, gossip or bully another individual. Safe social media habits protect your child, their friends and their future.

These tips aren’t just about protecting your child online. They’re about helping your child developing attitudes and behaviours that enable them to protect themselves. Take the time to talk through the issues with your children as soon as you can.