Internet safety and security are important for computer users of all ages. Kids, teens, and adults all need to be aware of the risks of being online and using social media. To combat these risks, there are many different tips to be followed and actions to be taken. Protect yourself and your family to create a safer Internet for everyone.
Kids are learning at a much younger age than previous generations did how to navigate and use the Internet, social media, and all different kinds of websites. The Internet has proven to be a great tool in schools and for learning, but it's still the same Internet that any age group can use, and it's still important that kids know how to protect themselves when online. It's important that young children use the Internet with adult supervision and learn the difference between websites with educational or uplifting intents and websites that aren't age-appropriate or that may cause or contribute to psychological or physical harm.
Kids, be aware of your surroundings when you're online, just as you would if you were out in a public place. If you don't feel safe or comfortable on a website, leave and tell an adult, a parent, or a teacher. It's always best to get permission before you visit a new website; ask before you log on. Avoid websites and users that make you feel bad or uncomfortable. For example, if a person online says hurtful or mean things about another person, they're cyberbullying that person, and that's not something you should be a part of. Like with bullying you might see in school, leave the situation and tell an adult. Cyberbullying is real and can cause much more than just hurt feelings. If you see something, say something and help stop the cycle of bullying online.
Teens are major consumers of all things online, most notably social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and many more offer an intimate look into the lives of our friends and the people we follow. But what does that mean? It means that it's important to think before you post. Think about who might see your posts and pictures, maybe not today but in a few years from now or when you're applying to colleges or for a job. If the post isn't something that the future you would be proud to have out there in public, don't post it.
Keeping your personal information offline is also important. Avoid giving out your email address, home address, phone number, and other private information. This type of information acts like bait for "friends" who could use it to impersonate you or steal your identity for their own gain. Be smart about your security settings on social media, and make sure that you're only allowing detailed information like this to be viewed, if by anyone, by users you really know. Only accept requests from people you know, and avoid falling into the trap of "the more the merrier." It's not all about the number of friends you have on social media: It's about safely using social media platforms to stay connected with your real friends.
Parents, the Internet can be a complicated place, and with new websites and social media trends popping up every day, it can be hard to keep track of what your kids are doing and the websites they are visiting. The first step to protecting your kids and teens online is simple; install an anti-virus program to help combat online threats. Properly safeguarding your computer can help prevent major headaches, including viruses and hackers that may seek to gain access to private files and information. You may also choose to take it a step further and manually block certain websites from being accessed through your computer, making it harder for children to access websites you disapprove of.
Teach your kids how to be safe online, and take an active interest in the websites and social media platforms they participate on. Instagram and Facebook might not be your thing, but in order to discreetly monitor your child's activity online, having your own profiles on such sites may prove beneficial. Explaining to them the importance of protecting their personal information is critical and may help them to avoid issues such as computer crimes and identity theft. Identity theft can happen regardless of the victim's age and can be incredibly damaging for younger victims who've yet to establish their financial and credit histories.