#DefendYourCyberSelf: How to Help Your Kids With Cybercrime and Online Safety

School’s out for summer! Kids and teens are spending more time on the internet playing their favorite games and connecting with friends through various types of social media more than ever before. It’s important to remember that these video games, chat-rooms, and social media platforms all open children up to potential risk, as they are often targets of cybercrime. Ask your kids about their personal experiences on the internet. Do they know what websites are safe? Have they had a negative experience on social media? Opening this dialogue with your kids is vital in protecting them from cybercrime. We have a few useful tips to help you navigate this topic effectively. If your child is exposed to cybercrime, visit our recovery resource page for children, teens, and young adults.

Talk to them. Make sure your children are comfortable telling you when something goes wrong. The best way to defend their cyber-safety is open communication. Start the dialogue about internet safety with your kids today!

Differentiate between safe and unsafe sites. If your child is old enough to navigate the internet freely, consider opening the dialogue about the differences between safe and unsafe websites. Teach your kids to recognize the warning signs. Sites that have concerning pop-ups, are abnormally slow-functioning, or look illegitimate can be risky. A secure website will always begin with “https” rather than “http”. These distinctions are key at any age! Giving your kids the tools they need to navigate the web safely is vital. Unsafe sites can infect your devices with malware

If your children are young, consider setting parental controls on your devices. Some websites will have built-in age restrictions, but according to Kaspersky Labs, 17% of 8 to 16-year-olds pretend to be older than they really are online. It’s important that you discuss the reason for these restrictions with your children, as well as set up your own parameters. Most internet service providers will allow you to restrict screen time, websites, pop-ups, etc. These controls give you the opportunity to limit your child’s exposure to unsafe websites! 

Teach them good social media habits. Your teen may want to share photos of their vacation or chat with friends over the summer break. Social media is a great way to stay connected! According to the Pew Research Center, 95% of kids ages 12-17 actively use the internet. While it’s fun to use these social sites, there are some essential privacy points to make your kids aware of. 

Make sure they know who is viewing their profile! They can edit their privacy settings on any social platform to ensure that only their friends and family can access their photos and posts. Let your kids know the importance of being selective when adding friends – adding strangers exposes them to cyber-safety risk. 

Even popular social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok pose cybercrime threats. It’s important to know who you are connecting with on social media. Imposter scams are present on all social media platforms and cybercriminals are always searching for new ways to target victims. Remaining vigilant to potential scammers is key, even when using a trusted social media platform.

It’s also important to teach your teens about the risks of oversharing on social media. Posting photos and updates can keep you connected to those close to you, but teens should be sure not to share any sensitive data, e.g; confidential information about their identity. Phone numbers and addresses of places they frequent should be kept private. Cybercriminals can get a hold of this data and commit multiple types of identity theft.

Remember to visit Fightcybercrime.org for recovery support in the face of cybercrime like identity theft, impostor scams, malware and more. Our mission is to support victims of cybercrime as they report, recover, and reinforce their cybersecurity. If you would like to help us help victims of cybercrime, please consider donating. No contribution is too small. Thank you!