As a parent, you teach your children how to cross the street, write their name, and use a fork. However, as our world becomes more and more tech-savvy, children are using the web at younger ages than they used to.
It is now not uncommon to see a toddler using a smartphone or a 5-year-old who knows how to navigate an iPad almost as well as their parents. With technology making its way into classrooms and electronics geared toward children, how can you best keep your children safe from internet scammers?
Let’s explore what you should teach your children to help them be safe online!
How to Prevent Internet Scams
Similar to teaching your child about essential physical boundaries and body awareness, there are information boundaries that exist in our smartphone-based society. We keep our body-safe, but we also should keep our data safe.
Your child knows how to call 9-1-1 in an emergency, but have you told them what they shouldn’t share online?
Educate your child about the concept of private personal information. Their private information, which should not be shared, includes:
- Full name (even if you allow them to use their first name online, teach them that the rest of their name is off-limits!)
- Address (they should know their address in case they are ever lost, or there is an emergency, but they ought never to share their address online, even with someone who seems like an online friend or promises to send them something).
- Parent’s full name (and their siblings’ names) should not be shared.
- Their school (for obvious reasons).
- The city they live in (an adult or scammer is impersonating a child can bridge together other details quickly, the more they share).
- Phone Number (which can then be searched by a scammer through Social Catfish).
- Bank Information: this can include their bank card or other details. Also, while it isn’t as likely that your child knows their Social Security or Identification Card number, instruct them to keep those details private. Children can also be at risk of identity fraud from scammers.
Online friendships often feel as real as regular in-person friendships, primarily the more one interacts. Your child might tell you that they will be careful, then not put those safety techniques into practice with online friends they like. Teach your child that just because someone sounds or seems like a real friend, they could be another person entirely.
Practice role-playing with your child, so they become more equipped to respond to strangers with built-in safety measures (i.e., blocking another user, report them to the game/app, etc.). Give them age-appropriate examples of real-life online risks other children have faced.
You can download monitoring software and monitor your child’s phone using free downloadable apps. These can let you access chat records, apps, instant messaging, texts, websites, etc.
If you DO allow your child to use chat features, make sure they only do so on well-moderated sites when the computer is in the same room as you. Also, ad this is *key* make sure you can see the screen while they are using it.
Well-meaning parents often don’t bother to look. There have been cases where children have met online acquaintances and been abducted, all from a computer their parents could have had access to!
Expect the Worst
Even the parents of great kids often admit that their son or daughter doesn’t always follow the rules. This is true for online safety, as well. Scammers perfect their craft, as it is their living and how they make money. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your beautiful child isn’t at risk of being scammed.
Make Them Tech Savvy
You can teach your children how to check the web URL for a hyperlink and NEVER click on any emailed links. Tweens and teens can also learn how to do a basic safety search at Social Catfish.
Strangers with Candy
When a child is online, the proverbial risk of “strangers with candy” can come in the form of someone suggesting they link to another site, download an ‘awesome’ new game, chat via messenger, or even give them a loan of money.
Children are easy targets. Teach your children not to click on any links they are sent and that if anything does (accidentally) download on your/their computer, to tell you immediately.
The more you have open communication in general, the more comfortable your children will be at sharing these concerns with you.
Look up the information that scammers can already see about your child, using an algorithm based search at Social Catfish: