Children need to understand the threats that are found in cyberspace just like they understand threats in their physical environment. We teach them to avoid touching hot stoves and to look both ways before crossing the road because of the physical threat that a hot stove is to the hand and a moving car is when it contacts a human body. Similarly, they need to understand the threats of the Internet such as identity theft and phishing and respond by doing or avoiding doing certain things online because of those threats.
Here are five steps to protecting privacy and improving security recommended by Common Sense Media.
- Encourage children to seek permission from a parent or other trusted adult before putting any private information (name, address, birth date, etc.) online.
- Teach children not to include their real name in their username.
- Teach children to avoid downloading free videos or games because of the frequency that malware is included.
- Encourage children not to open email from unrecognized senders because of the frequency of spam.
- Explain to children that passwords should be difficult to guess—not including private information, such as nickname or birthdate, not being a word in the dictionary, and including combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols.