Both children and adults are falling victim to the dangers present in the online world. Our guide helps you prepare and enhance your online safety strategies.
One of the things that 2020 has shown us is how important technology and the internet can be for our lives. In the absence of physical environments, the digital world has allowed us to engage with others and continue on with our lives in meaningful ways.
We exist online in many spaces, for numerous reasons, and with different degrees of safety. We’re going to explore online safety in this article, giving you some refreshers on how to stay safe in the modern digital landscape.
We’ll look at safety for kids as well as adults, hopefully giving you the pointers you need to keep your information private and your children safe. Let’s get started:
Online Safety for Children
Digital pre-schools and elementary schools are a far cry from the learning environments that most adults experienced back in the day. As the pandemic starts to wane, things will shift back toward an in-class state, but the fact is that children of a very young age are capable of using computers and accessing the internet.
They’re as fluent in technology as many adults are, except they haven’t had the life lessons to know that the internet can be a dangerous place. We can’t prevent them from engaging online, so it’s important that we start informing them about how to conduct themselves in a way that’s safe.
The first step in that process is having frank discussions about their digital rules.
Have Regular Discussions about Safety
Some of the red flags that we see day in and day out don’t register for children online, so we have to start informing them of what to look out for and what the potential dangers are.
Discuss the dangers of giving your personal information to individuals who you do not know. Talk about what could happen if they enter their own personal information into websites that they don’t know to be trustworthy. They should also know the dangers of clicking on unknown links that arrive via text or email in their inboxes.
Most importantly, emphasize the fact that we have to tread lightly online because there are very real threats lurking out there. That isn’t a fact that should be used to scare them, but it’s important that anyone who wants to use the internet safely understands this point.
Check in On Them After Having Screen Time
Make sure to keep open conversations about how your child’s digital life is going. Whether they’re starting to use social media or they’re exploring different digital forums that they enjoy, see how things are going.
Ask them meaningful questions and get a feel for the kind of experiences they’re having online, whether they’re talking to unknown individuals, or if they’re getting exposed to the kinds of things that you don’t want them to.
Even though it’s uncomfortable, it’s important to discuss the taboo areas of the internet with children. Kids of very young ages now have the ability to watch pornography and engage sexually in various ways. These online spaces are very dangerous for children to interact with, both psychologically and physically.
Some parents may shy away from having these talks with their children, but the fact is that kids with access to the internet have access to the largest storage of sexual content that mankind has ever known. Failing to discuss the potential dangers of those spaces with your children is almost synonymous with them exploring them at one point or another.
Grooming and Inappropriate Contact
On this note, you should not only warn your children about the potential dangers online but explain to them the sorts of behavior that indicates a threat.
Grooming is the way that an older person might interact with a child in an attempt to manipulate them in one way or another. It’s difficult to restrict your child’s ability to use social media platforms and other digital forums considering that these are primary ways that children socialize now.
Unfortunately, social media platforms and other points of contact are the key places where grooming can occur and lead to the danger of your child. You can try to avoid these instances by making your child’s social media accounts private, deleting friends online that they don’t actually know, and blocking individuals who show signs of being suspicious.
The most effective way to ward off these threats, though, is to explain the warning signs to them.
The first is continued and personal discussion from a person who your child has never met in real life. Predators are excellent at creating fake profiles that seem trustworthy, and might even depict images of a child that they’re pretending to be.
This person might attempt to make a personal bond and try to make themselves important to a child, even claiming to be best friends or that they love them. Further, this individual might ask for personal photos, favors, or send gifts online.
These behaviors are clear red flags, and it’s important that you keep an eye on who your children are talking to so that you can notice if they ever arise.
Staying Safe Online as an Adult
Digital safety in adulthood is a lot different than it is for children. As you age, you become less prone to falling prey to digital predators or individuals who’d like to take advantage of you.
That is, you are less likely to engage with individuals who would do this. That doesn’t mean you aren’t as vulnerable to digital attacks, though. Digital privacy requires that you’re well-equipped with security software and you know how to manage your information in a way that won’t be exploited.
It might be hard for most of us to count on one hand all of the websites that we spent money on in the last month. From monthly subscriptions to holiday purchases, many people have their financial information logged into dozens of websites at any given time.
This is especially true during the pandemic. Our bank accounts, life savings, and social security numbers are thinly guarded by a password. This brings us to our first tip.
Know Where Your Information Is Stored
Go through your history and your memory to find all of the websites that you’ve entered your financial information into. Having a register of those websites is important in case you find that those sites have been compromised or if you experience any kind of fraud and can’t find the source.
Moving forward, it’s important that you only engage with secure websites that offer safe e-commerce platforms.
One way to ensure that you’re doing this is to visit websites independently of their advertisements. Social media platforms berate us with thousands of ads a month. In some cases, those ads, especially those on independent websites, might hold viruses.
If you’re taken by an ad and want to visit the site, just search the business independently and click on the actual site link. This is a simple way to avoid scams or having your information stolen.
Don’t Buy Things on Public Servers
Another key thing to avoid is paying for products while using public Wi-Fi. Many instances of fraud or stolen information come when a person accesses that information or makes purchases on public servers.
These servers can often have little security and not be encrypted. This isn’t to say that you should never use a public server, only that you should avoid getting anywhere near your personal information when you’re on one.
Don’t Stack Your Passwords
On the off chance that your information is stolen and someone hacks an account of yours, the last thing you’d want would be for them to then know your password for every other account that you have.
Internet safety 101 tells us to use distinct passwords every time we make an account. Reality shows us that far too many people don’t do this at all.
While many of the websites that you use are sure to be safe and trustworthy, that doesn’t mean that their privacy won’t change. As websites age, our accounts remain. Even though we don’t use those platforms anymore doesn’t mean that our personal information isn’t still logged and waiting to be harvested.
This is especially true for websites and services that aren’t extremely popular. Maybe you’ve got an account on a home goods website that you’ll forget about in a year. Add that onto all of your old emails and social media accounts and you’ve got quite the risk.
That risk diminishes significantly when you use unique passwords whenever you make accounts. If you know that you have dozens of accounts floating around with the same password, take an afternoon to change that fact and improve your online safety.
Need to Improve Your Safety?
On top of all the information above, it’s essential that you have great security software working for you day and night. The foundation of online safety is digital protection across devices, and we’re here to help with that.
Explore our site for more ideas for keeping yourself safe as well as resources for software that keeps you updated as times change.