Keeping Kids Safe Online

It is no surprise that cybercriminals are taking advantage of the Internet and the people who use it. The Internet is like a bad neighborhood with bad guys around every corner. Any parent with an ounce of sensibility should recognize that when your child is on the wild wild web, they are at the same risk as they would be walking through the red light district in any big city.

I’m not saying this because I want to instill fear and panic, I’m bringing this up because sex offenders, pedophiles, criminal hackers and identity thieves treat the online world as if it was the physical world and use the anonymity of the web and the easiness of approach to seduce your children into doing things they wouldn’t normally do.

The Secret Online Lives of Teens, a survey conducted by McAfee, reveals that tweens and teens are relatively clueless about online privacy. The study sheds light on this generation’s tendency to use the Internet in ways that translate to danger in the real world.

There always has, is, and will be a predatory element out there. Generally, most people don’t want to think about that or even admit that it’s true. Instead of acknowledging the risks, most people completely discount this reality, telling themselves, “It can’t happen to me or my kids.”

The good news is you can do something about it. As soon as a family member becomes active online, it’s time to educate them—no matter what age they are—about cyber safety.

  • Set up the computer in a high-traffic family area and limit the number of hours your children spend on it.
  • Be sure you have computer security software with parental controls.
  • Decide exactly what is okay and what is not okay with regard to the kinds of web sites that are appropriate to visit
  • Use only appropriate monitored chat rooms
  • Never log in with user names that reveal true identity or that are provocative
  • Never reveal your passwords
  • Never reveal phone numbers or addresses
  • Never post information that reveals your identity
  • Never post inappropriate photos or ones that may reveal your identity (for example: city or school names on shirts)
  • Never share any information with strangers met online
  • Never meet face-to-face with strangers met online
  • Never open attachments from strangers

Once you have established the rules, make a poster listing them, and put it next to the computer.

Robert Siciliano personal security expert to ADT Home Security Source discussing Home Security and Identity Theft on TBS Movie and a Makeover. Disclosures.

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