While preparing for back-to-school, cybersecurity should be a top priority. When everyone from a toddler to a teacher has access to smart devices, it’s critical that parents watch over and protect their children’s cyber security. Since children’s clean credit makes them identity theft targets, it’s never too soon to establish cybersecurity ground rules.

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Parental Control Software

Managing your child’s online presence isn’t easy, but parental control software may help. Combining these tools and open discussions with your child can enhance security.

Tips for Elementary School Kids

  • Find out what your kids already know. You might be surprised! There are plenty of fun and engaging resources online, like these recommended by the National Cybersecurity Alliance.
  • Privacy is craved by this age group. Use that to your advantage when discussing how to stay private online. Remind them that online is forever and that what they post now will still be around when they are older.
  • Apps, just because they are in your smartphone app store, doesn’t mean they are safe. Reading reviews and comments can help determine their legitimacy.

Tips for Middle and High School Kids

  • Privacy discussions are critical since older kids are likely on social media. Help your child learn about the consequences of oversharing, how friends of friends can see their posts, and the dangers of connecting with people they don’t know in real life (IRL).
  • Online reputation has influence, and kids should start thinking about how their online activity will look to future potential employers. Remember, online is forever. Cyberbullying is also common at this age. Talking about proper and improper online etiquette and reporting is important.
  • Skepticism can be a useful prevention tactic. Teach your child that just because it’s on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true, and not everyone is who they say they are. Setting communication ground rules is critical.

Tips for College Students

  • Practicing safe habits like creating strong passwords, not clicking unexpected links, and using caution on public Wi-Fi can go a long way to protecting this technically savvy group.
  • Real-world caution is necessary for a college atmosphere. Encourage your student to keep an eye on their devices, password-protect them, and never share that password.
  • Oversharing on social media, online reputation, and privacy are paramount at this age. This is also a good time to educate on more technical security tips like:
    • Backing up data
    • Installing malware/virus protection
    • Being cautious when buying used tech
    • Updating software regularly
    • Phishing email red flags

Following these tips can help make your back to school cyber experience safe and secure.