Back-to-school is in full swing and although you might think you have everything your kids need, you probably need to remember to educate your school-age kids, tweens, and Teens on how they can stay safe online while schooling face to face or virtually. Your children face plenty of online threats during the school year, everything from cyberbullying, online predators, and sexting to phishing attempts, and the theft of their laptops and smartphones. Fortunately, you can decrease the odds that your children fall victim to online threats this school year by following these steps to help them avoid cyber danger
1. Educate your kids about phishing. Criminals realize your children have access to your credit cards and will target them with spam messages promising free stuff from social media and games. Explain to them the dangers of sharing personal and financial information online.
2. Watch for cyberbullying. Acts of cyberbullying rose during COVID and don't appear to be slowing down. Keep an eye on your kids' devices to make sure they aren't being bullied and aren't bullying other kids. If you witness cyberbullying, take screenshots and videos and report them to the proper authorities.
3. Limit online gaming. Online games are designed to keep your children plugged in 24/7 which can disrupt sleep patterns, become addictive, and can cause your child to suffer in school. If possible, limit games like Fortnite and Roblox to weekends or one day a week.
4. Watch for online predators. Online predators come in all forms and can come from a variety of sources such as social media, gaming sites/gaming chats, and trusted adults. Another good reason to make sure you keep an eye on what your kids are doing online.
5. Have a conversation about sexting and sextortion. Cybercriminals are targeting kids with sextortion scams, luring your kids to send nude photos to them, so they can extort money from your children. Your child may think that Direct messaging in games and social media apps can't be seen by the public eyes, but what happens on the Internet always stays on the Internet. Letting your child know that sexting is never good helps them from sharing inappropriate content online.
6. Teach your kids to never leave their laptops and smartphones unattended. Unless you like buying new tech devices for your kids, tell them to keep a close eye on them. Make sure their devices are always password protected, and enable 'find my device' on all of their devices. If they lose them, you can locate them quickly.
7. Make sure that school-issued laptops and tablets are using strong filtering software. There is no all-inclusive parental control software that can protect against everything. Yes, your school has your back, but it never hurts to double-check to make sure your kids can't get to those sites they shouldn't be visiting.
I hope you can use these tips to help keep your kids safe this school year. Cybercriminals will target any age range, which means you need to do everything to keep your kids safe. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!
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