Protect Your Family During Internet Safety Month

Internet Safety Month

Internet Safety Month, observed each June, is a great time to consider how you are securing your family’s safety online.

There are several unique risks associated with children and online safety. When a child is using a computer or mobile device, normal safeguards and security practices may not be sufficient. Children possess natural characteristics, such as innocence, curiosity, desire for independence, and fear of punishment, that can present additional challenges to staying safe online. Make sure to consider these characteristics when determining how to best protect your data and the child.

Here are some tips to help stay diligent about online safety with children:

  • Keep computers in open areas – If a computer is in a high-traffic area, you can more easily monitor computer activity. This accessibility can help deter children from doing something they know they’re not allowed to do, while also giving the opportunity to intervene when a suspicious behavior is noticed that could have negative consequences.
  • Set rules – Make sure your child knows their online boundaries. These boundaries should be appropriate for the child’s age, knowledge, and maturity, but may also include rules about how long they are allowed to be on the computer or mobile device, what sites they are allowed to visit, what software programs they can use, and what tasks or activities they are allowed to do.
  • Warn about dangers – Educating children about online dangers so they can recognize suspicious behavior or activity is extremely important. Discuss the risks of sharing certain types of information (e.g., that they’re home alone) and the benefits to only communicating and sharing information with people they know. The goal isn’t to scare them, it’s to make them more aware.
  • Monitor online activity – Be aware of what your child is doing online, including which websites they are visiting. If they are using email, instant messaging, or chat rooms, try to get a sense of who they are corresponding with and whether they actually know them.
  • Keep lines of communication open – Let your child know that they can approach you with any questions or concerns about behaviors or problems they may have encountered online.
  • Consider implementing parental controls – You can set parental controls in several ways on computers or mobile devices. These controls can be internet browser based or software based. Some mobile devices even have built in system settings you can set up.

There are several products available that can help with online safety:

  • Verizon Smart Family
  • AT&T Smart Family App
  • Net Nanny
  • Microsoft Family Safety
  • Bark

Visit the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s Online Safety Basics website here for more information and ways to stay safe online.