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4 Things You Need to Know About Internet Safety for Kids

Internet Safety for Kids

The Internet can be a fantastic education and entertainment tool for your child, but it can also present a number of dangers. In a 2015 poll on the biggest health concerns for children, Internet safety ranked fourth — just below drug abuse. Up from eighth place the previous year, over 50% of U.S. adults acknowledged that cyber safety is a genuine health concern for kids.

Here’s important information about some of the most common hazards kids face online and what you can do to help reduce the chance your child will experience them.

Cyberbullying

What you should know:

Cyberbullying is a frighteningly common occurrence. More than 26% of children say they’ve been bullied online but only one out of 10 victims told a parent or other trusted adult about the incident. What’s more, a worldwide study conducted by telecommunications company Vodafone revealed that 21% of teens who had been cyberbullied missed school because of it and 18% considered suicide.

What you can do:

Report Harassment

Remind your child to tell you about any hurtful or offensive messages they encounter, and let them know they’re not alone. Keep a record of any harassment and report the problem to your local law enforcement agency if necessary.

Block Bullies

If your child is harassed through instant messaging, social media, or email, block the cyberbully immediately and strengthen the account’s privacy settings. Explore the resources on StopBullying.gov to learn more about how you and your child can help prevent cyberbullying.

Identify Theft

What you should know:

Kids are the victims of identity theft more often than most parents realize. In fact, compared to adults, children under the age of 18 are 51 times more likely to have their identities stolen. Children are prime targets because they have clean credit records and tend to post a lot of personal identifying information online. Plus, most young people don’t check their credit scores, so criminals may be able to use their identity for years unnoticed.

What you can do:

Keep Information Private

Don’t allow your child to post things like their full name, complete address, date of birth, or any information that can be used alone — or with other information — to steal their identity. Remind your child never to give out personal information without checking with you first and caution them against taking online surveys or quizzes, as criminals can use information submitted through these formats to steal identities.

Check Credit Reports

Check your child’s credit report at least once per year. This will help alert you to possible fraud and give you time to make corrections to their credit before they try to apply for a student loan or get a credit card.

Online Sexual Predators

What you should know:

Among parents who use the Internet, 41% are concerned about their children communicating with dangerous strangers online — a valid fear considering 20% of U.S. teens who regularly go online say they have received an unwanted sexual solicitation through the Internet, but only 25% told a parent. The Journal of Adolescent Health found that 82% of online sexual predators use social media to learn about their victim’s likes and dislikes, 65% use social media to find out where their victim lives and attends school, and 26% use social media to find out a victim’s location at a certain time.

What you can do:

Talk About the Issue

Use language appropriate for your child’s age and development to explain the dangers of online sexual predators. Be sure to reassure your child it’s not their fault if someone they don’t know initiates contact with them, but they must make you aware of the situation immediately.

Avoid Strangers

Set rules about what your child can and can’t post on social media and who they’re allowed to communicate with via the Web. Predators will often pose as someone your child’s age, so remind your child that they should chat online with only people they have met in person and know well.

Follow Their Online Activity

Another way to help your child stay safe online is periodically checking their social media accounts — and their other online activity — and talking to them about anything that concerns you. You’ll also want to set parental controls to help block sexually explicit material and other inappropriate content.

Password Sharing and Hacking

What you should know:

A full 34% of teens say they’ve shared one or more username and password with a person other than their parent. Sometimes, this results in the child’s account being hacked by an individual they know. The hacker, who could be an ex-friend, may pose as the victim to post embarrassing or hurtful content on social media or to send disturbing emails that appear to come from the victim.

What you can do:

Use Strong Passwords

Help your child create hard-to-crack passwords, and keep track of them using a password manager like Dashlane. Remind your child not to share their passwords with anyone else but you.

Avoid Fake Websites

Cyber criminals may try to capture usernames and passwords by creating URLs and sign-in pages that look very similar to legitimate sites. Remind your child that they should check the URL carefully before signing into any websites — if they doubt whether the website is authentic, they shouldn’t sign in. Bookmarking favorite websites is another way to help prevent inadvertently signing into bogus ones.

You are your child’s best protection when it comes to Internet safety. Start a conversation about online safety with your child today and stay aware of their Web activities. Please share this important information on your social networks to help other parents keep their children safe.

Alexia Chianis

Find out more about Alexia, here.

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