Keeping Kids Safe Online: A Guide to Internet Safety

Mère expliquant à son enfant l'importance de la sécurité sur Internet

It’s no secret that the internet has revolutionized the way we can access information. At the click of a button, you can be transported across the web, but unbeknownst to you,  you leave a trail of data, or your digital footprints, everywhere you go.

Computers, and other smart devices, can be susceptible to cyber attacks; and if you’re not careful, hackers can get access to your personal information and confidential data.

With kids joining social media and browsing the web at an early age, it’s critical that parents discuss the importance of protecting themselves when they’re online. 

The Good Hands Advice team spoke with Allstate Canada’s Cybersecurity team to help parents learn how they can speak to their kids about internet safety.

What Are Some Internet Safety Tips for Kids?

Inform Your Child of Potential Cyber Threats

Some parents may shy away from having difficult conversations with their kids, but when it comes to internet safety it is important that you inform them of potential threats online.

Make it a regular practice to discuss the current apps, technologies, social media sites and websites your kids use and how they can spot potential threats – including phishing and malware attacks.

Foster a safe and welcoming space by involving your kids in establishing rules and boundaries for how their devices and the internet will be used to stay secure.

When it comes to staying cybersecure, prevention is always better than the cure, and the first step starts with a conversation.

Spend Time Teaching Your Children to Identify Suspicious Messages.

Once they have a basic understanding of what a cyber attack may look like, it’s time to teach them how to identify suspicious behaviours. Train your kids to be cautious and think before they click. Cyber criminals continue to imitate legitimate institutions to trick people into sharing confidential or sensitive information for one reason – it works.

Spend time teaching your kids to identify suspicious messages that have:

  • Spelling or grammar errors;
  • A sense of urgency to avoid a negative outcome or;
  • Requests to click a link and provide personal information such as their account username and passwords.

Remember, just because something may appear legitimate, doesn’t mean that it is. Be sure to have them take a few extra minutes before clicking on anything to identify if the message is coming from a trusted source.

The Canadian government has identified the seven red flags of phishing.

Discuss How They Can Protect Their Digital Footprint

As mentioned earlier, when you’re online, you leave your digital footprints everywhere. Your digital footprint tracks, stores, and records every digital “move” you make online and shapes your digital identity.

Children and teenagers may think it’s safe to share personal information like their address, school, vacation plans, or daily routines online. However, cyber criminals can leverage this information to launch cyber attacks. Oversharing on social media can also have adverse effects to your home as well.

Our Cybersecurity team recommends helping your kids stay protected by:

  • Discussing personal information that should be kept offline;
  • Using privacy settings on devices and apps;
  • Creating usernames and pseudonyms that keep their personal identity private;
  • Using strong, hard-to-guess, passwords that use a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols when possible; and
  • Establish boundaries with parental controls using Google’s Family Link

Teach Them to Only Download Apps from Secure Sources

Downloading things you find online can be easy but, be careful where you get them from. If you use untrustworthy sources, your device and data could be at risk.

Everything from editing software to game apps can potentially make you vulnerable to attacks if it’s not coming from a reliable source. Encourage your kids to only use Google Play or the Apple App Store, and teach them to always review the privacy settings with you before downloading.

Inform Them of the Importance of Having the Most Up to Date Software

Software updates are designed to do more than add new, cool features – they also fix vulnerabilities that may leave data and personal information susceptible to cyber attacks.

Many devices allow you to turn on automatic software updates for the operating system, security protection and apps. It’s a great way to add an extra layer of protection for your kids. For apps that don’t offer automatic updates, always remember to complete the updates as soon as you’re prompted.

Although the internet is amazing for learning, fun and entertainment, as kids participate in online activities, it’s important to ensure they’re protected.

Get the conversation started today!  Having regular discussions about cyber security will give you insight into how they’re exploring the internet, while letting them know you’re a safe space they can go to for support.

Disclaimer: This information and the websites referenced are provided for your convenience only and should not be construed as providing legal or insurance advice. Allstate does not control or guarantee the accuracy of any content on any third-party site.  Allstate is not responsible for the privacy practices of any third-party site.