It’s the first day of summer – and by now, school’s out and students are free to spend even more time on electronic devices. This may be the perfect time to have a “cyber safety” conversation and encourage careful online behavior. According to SavvyCyberKids.org:
- 92% of teens are online daily, including 24% who are almost constantly online.
- 92% of two-year olds in the United States have an online record.
Children are often introduced to electronic devices and the Internet before they are able to fully understand their power. Consequently, it’s important to educate them from a very young age so that good cyber hygiene becomes a habit. The following are suggestions from IAmCyberSafe.org:
- Respect Age Ratings: They are meant to protect children from inappropriate content.
- Set Rules: Determine usage times, keep screens in the open and have a central charging station for portable devices at night.
- Use Controls:Many devices come with parental controls that enable restricting access times and set website category blocking.
- Teach Privacy: Explain that a digital footprint—or the unique trail of data we create while using the Internet—lasts a lifetime.
- Emphasize that reputations are at risk and that social network posts and pictures will be available to future employers and colleges/universities.
- Encourage children to pause and think before posting about themselves and others online. In addition, caution them not to overshare.
- Protect Identity and Location:
- Stress the importance of never sharing personal information such as age, school, address, phone number, last name or any PII (Personally Identifiable Information) when online.
- Personal information should not be included in screen names.
- If gaming, set up private chats with trusted friends to alleviate exposure to unwanted conversations and in-game instant messaging.
- Disable geotagging.
- Discuss Cyberbullying:
- Even when not the intended target, offensive and hurtful comments should be reported immediately.
- Be cautious of information sent or posted about someone else. Though an offensive or hurtful comment may be unintentional, it could still be construed as bullying.
- Monitor and Communicate:
- Friend or follow your kids to monitor their social media activity.
- Ensure profiles are set to private.
There are numerous free options available to assist adults when explaining cyber safety to children including SavvyCyberKids.org and IAmCyberSafe.org. KnowBe4, a cyber security awareness training company, offers a free Children’s Interactive Security Activity Kit. In addition, there are many resources that explore the impact of growing up in today’s digital world and offer guidance navigating it.
- ABC 20/20 ScreenTime: Diane Sawyer Reporting
- Teen Cell Phone Agreement
- Ask the Mediatrician®: Dr. Michael Rich offers research-based, balanced, and practical answers to questions about children’s media use.
- Screenagers: Screen Time Contracts
- Screenagers: Tech Talk Tuesday Blog
Teaching cyber security can be the best summer school option you offer young people in your lives!