Never too early to talk to your children about online safety

The best way to protect your children online is to talk to them. Studies suggest children rely on their parents for this important information.

Not sure where to begin? It’s best to start as soon as your child begins using a cell phone, computer, or any mobile device. Even toddlers see their parents use these devices, so this is a good time to talk to them about online behavior, safety, and security.

As they grow older, children need to learn to protect their personal information which includes: their full name, address, phone number, and where they go to school. They also need to be taught that talking to strangers online, is just like talking to strangers in real life. For example, a child who met someone online and they ask to meet with the child in person, that child should always tell an adult. Explain to your child that it might be harmful to connect with people they really don’t know, especially alone.

Key online information
If children must enter any personal information, they should work with their parents to do so. Parents need to help them understood what a trusted website is. For example, if you plan to enter any personal information, check the website and make sure it offers a secure connection and that the link begins with https://. That extra “s” before the colon means the website relies on a secure connection that is more protected from hackers than http://.

Also, make sure the website represents a trusted organization or institution like a government agency or well-known business. Read the URL and make sure the organization’s name is spelled correctly. Also review the site. If you see misspellings and a lack of specifics on the “About us” page, all these issues raise a red flag. These sites should be avoided.

Passwords are private
Please note, parents should talk to their children on the importance of not sharing their passwords with their friends. Passwords are a link to their personal information. If other people have their passwords, they can pretend to be the child or change your information. It’s best to not share this information.

As children grow and move to connecting with others online, taking the time to help them know what is safe and appropriate to share is very useful. Remember, if your child has a profile on social media accounts, set that account to private.

Also, spend time with your child and visit their favorite apps together. Find out what games and websites they visit most frequently and determine if they are safe. It’s a good idea to know the appropriate game ratings.

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