Keep Kids Safe Online From Fraud: 4 Tips You Need to Know

Some children grow up using technology while others have limited access to screen time in the early years, but eventually, all our kids end up using the Internet. And that’s a good thing! Between education, entertainment, communication and creative endeavours, there are plenty of benefits to kids getting online but to keep kids safe online, they must learn to use these channels responsibly.

This past year has accelerated some children’s introduction to the online world as many schools introduced virtual learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. While kids are often quick to master technology and use it confidently, it’s important that they stay safe. Here are some tips to protect your kids from fraud and to keep them safe when they’re online.

1. Use parental controls to keep younger kids safe

When your kids are new to being online, consider using parental control software to manage their Internet access and filter potentially harmful content. This may include pornography, mature language and gambling websites. Parental controls will ensure that your kids aren’t stumbling across harmful material or breaking the rules you’ve set as a family and can help prevent fraud by limiting access to sites known for phishing scams. Try out these highly rated parental control apps for your family and keep your kids safe. You can also use Norton 360, a popular antivirus software that offers parental controls to help kids surf the web safely. Kaspersky Safe Kids is another great option that offers device usage scheduling, automatic notifications about suspicious activities, GPS safe zones, and summaries of what your kids are researching, seeing and sharing online. It’s available on PC, Mac, Android, and iOS.

As your kids grow, teach them how to identify potentially dangerous content themselves. Sticking to websites that are encrypted and secure is a good start, especially if they begin shopping online as teens. Everyone should know not to click on unknown links — even in emails from friends and family — and to exit a website if they see potential malware. You may want to have them take an online safety quiz like this one from the Toronto Public Library.

2. Keep your family’s personal details offline

While this is important at every age, there are a few key reminders to keep kids and teens safe online. Instruct them not to use their full name on any online profiles, including when gaming or on social media —instead, try a short form, nickname or pseudonym. Kids shouldn’t add their birthday or contact information to any online platforms and should know not to provide personal details when asked (their school, phone number or home address, family members’ names, etc.). Caution against oversharing and teach them what it means to have a digital footprint.

It’s also important that kids think critically about who they’re communicating with online. Remind them that some information is private and people on the Internet aren’t always who they say they are. Have them avoid communicating with strangers online, even if it seems harmless (for example, through the chat function on a video game). Even when communicating with friends, kids and teens should know not to share personal details as they could end up in the wrong hands.

3. Keep passwords secure — even from friends and family

A password should always be kept secret, but children can take their online security a step further by choosing a unique password that no one else knows (including their friends or siblings). Parents are the exception to this rule, particularly with young kids. It’s also smart to change your passwords regularly. Try integrating numbers and symbols to make it even harder for others to guess! This Seagate Backup Plus Ultra Touch portable hard drive may also be helpful, as it offers password protection and encryption as well as data storage.

You’re probably used to seeing funny, interactive memes on social media that ask you to put words together based on your initials, birth date or other personal details. While these posts seem harmless and it’s fun to participate by commenting, they are also a source of sensitive information that should not be shared publicly. That’s something for both kids and adults to remember when logging onto social media!

4. Protect your child’s social insurance number

Identity theft doesn’t just happen to adults — your kids are at risk of this type of fraud, too. Be sure to keep their social insurance number (SIN) in a safe place at home along with their passport and birth certificate. Do not store your kids’ social insurance numbers in any digital records. When purchasing a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) or other financial products in your child’s name, go with a reputable financial institution that is less likely to suffer from data breaches. Remember, if your child’s SIN number is stolen, an individual can start building a credit file in their name — something that may take years to uncover and resolve.

Now, go enjoy your online experience — there’s plenty of good stuff on the Internet. The key is to stay safe and avoid the rest!

By Staples Canada

May 13, 2021