Business & Technology

6 Internet Safety Tips for Kids (and Their Parents)

By Renee Tarun | March 30, 2021

As many adults continue to work from their homes and children continue to spend more time online due to factors like remote learning, it’s critical for parents to know how to keep kids safe online. With distance learning, students are connected to their home networks for the majority of their day. Outside their virtual classrooms, children often remain online afterward, whether it be streaming television shows, playing video games, or browsing through social networks. 

With an increased number of new devices connecting to home networks, cyber criminals have identified and exploited an open opportunity to execute ransomware attacks, target specific devices to steal information from, and compromise public school districts’ security defenses. This is why it is critical to establish a foundation of cybersecurity awareness for kids through education about internet safety from an early age.

6 Internet Safety Tips for Kids & Their Parents

Teleworkers typically rely on the security of the device and the network they are using to protect them from online threats; however, those security solutions can only go so far. Knowledge of basic cybersecurity practices, on the other hand, can go a long way to ensure good security posture. 

The same goes for our youth, who typically spend the majority of their time online. Parents should have a discussion about online safety practices as well as for them to be aware of the dangers their children can face online. Discussion should focus on the following.

#1: Educate Your Family and Friends

Trusted adults form the first line of protection. Encourage your family and friends to keep their personal details private online by encouraging them not to share their real names, addresses, phone numbers, or reveal other personally identifiable information (PII) to strangers online. 

#2: Establish Clear Rules

Make sure your children understand what they need to do to stay safe. For example, create lists of approved websites and applications or require parental approval for certain activities. 

#3: Know Who Your Kids Are Talking to Online

Keep a close eye on who your kids talk to, make sure they know they should never meet up in person with someone they met online, and remind them that if someone they are talking to online makes them uncomfortable, they do not have to continue responding. 

#4: Be Cautious of Scams and Malicious Websites

Because children are especially vulnerable to cyber threats such as phishing attempts, it is crucial that everyone in your household be aware of common threats. Make it clear that no one should click on a suspect link, open unexpected attachments, or download anything on your computer without parental approval.

#5: Encourage Kids to Speak Up

Children and teens should come to a trusted adult if they see inappropriate content, are unsure about something they find on the internet, or have concerns about a particular website or interaction.

Highlight the Importance of Strong Passwords

Passwords help keep your family’s information safe. Encourage children and adults in your household to use strong, differentiating passwords that are not obvious or easily accessible information. Examples of passwords to avoid using would include: birthdays, default passwords provided with devices, the user’s name, or simple combinations of numbers or words (ie. 1234, pAssword). 

In addition to all of the tips noted above, keeping your devices up to date is a must when working or learning from home. Make sure all devices and applications are fully updated with patches and that any antivirus and antimalware software on your device is current and operating. 

Keep kids safe online with “A Dog’s Guide to Internet Security” book

Additional Resource: A Dog’s Guide to Internet Security 

Fortinet places a heavy focus on spreading cyber awareness through our NSE Training Institute and skills gap initiatives. As part of this effort, I co-wrote “Cyber Safe: A Dog’s Guide to Internet Security,” a book written to educate our youth about internet safety. Through this initiative, Fortinet is continuing its commitment to educating the global community on cyber safety, regardless of age, background, or life experiences. Just as security affects everyone, cyber criminals target any vulnerability they can find, with no interest in their victim’s demographic. This book is an initiative of Fortinet’s skills gap work, focusing on building cyber awareness from an early age to help create a safer environment online for all. 

“Cyber Safe: A Dog’s Guide to Internet Security” aims to raise cyber awareness amongst children in elementary and middle school and takes readers on a journey to learn how to stay secure online. The book is centered around a cyber-smart dog, Lacey, who teaches her cat friend Gabbi how to use the internet safely. The book provides an easy-to-understand introduction to possible dangers for children connecting online for school, video games, streaming shows, and more. The book also includes a guide for parents with details on what they should be looking out for when their children are online. Copies of the book will be available to elementary and middle schools across the country to further cement a strong foundation of cyber safety knowledge in childre. 

Conclusion: Cyber Awareness is Crucial to Staying Safe

In addition to the book on how to keep kids safe online, Fortinet offers free cyber awareness courses – NSE 1 and NSE 2 – through the NSE Training Institute for anyone interested in building their knowledge of cybersecurity and is for all age groups, including young children. The NSE Training courses complement the information provided in the children’s book, providing foundational cyber awareness courses for children to learn about bad actors and put their learning to the test through levels NSE 1 and NSE 2.

Find out more about Fortinet’s NSE Training Institute programs, including the Certification ProgramSecurity Academy Program and Veterans Program, which provide critical cybersecurity training and education to help solve the cyber skills gap and prepare the cybersecurity workforce of tomorrow.

To purchase “Cyber Safe: A Dog’s Guide to Internet Security,” please visit here.

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