Study Safe: How To Make Your Kids Smart About Online Safety



Chances are you’ve read an article about a major cybersecurity incident somewhere in the world today. What you may not know is that students and schools are also being targeted every day. While someone opening a credit card in your child’s name or causing them to divulge private information may not make the headlines, there is no doubt that such attacks can be just as devastating for children. than for companies, even more.

Now that your children are probably either back to school or back to home learning, or a combination of the two, it is more imperative than ever that they understand the risks associated with online learning. . From learning about ransomware protection to using a password manager correctly, developing good online habits can keep your student safe online.

Schools and students are targets

I spoke with Dr Davina Pruitt-Mentle about ways to get kids interested in good cybersecurity habits. She is responsible for the academic engagement of NICE, which is the National Initiative for Cyber ​​Security Education at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Pruitt-Mentle has over 20 years of experience in preparing and engaging children to join the cybersecurity workforce. She says younger students have long been the target of online fraud.

“I remember preaching this in 2000, 2001,” she said. “Schools are always a high target, especially Kindergarten to Grade 12. Because you don’t even realize that something is wrong until you start applying for scholarships or internships.”

According to a 2018 study by Javelin, more than one million children were victims of identity fraud in 2017. This resulted in personal expenses of $ 540 million for families as they had to pay to restore their accounts, their credit and their identity. to good standing. Children may be tech-savvy, but many of them are unaware of the dangers of the world and will offer information such as social security numbers, credit card numbers, and other personal information during communications. regular online or other exchanges.

So what can you do to keep your students safe while allowing them to learn online? Pruitt-Mentle says it’s essential to discuss who and what is online, as well as developing good habits yourself. We’ve put together the following list of things you can do to keep your students safe online this school year. Feel free to contribute your own e-learning safety protocols in the comments.

1. Be a good role model

“Being aware and educated is the most important,” explained Pruitt-Mentle.

Children always look at the adults in their lives and imitate their actions. If you want to raise a student who is aware of cybersecurity threats and ready to do the job of keeping them at bay, you need to show off your good online security habits.

This means that as an adult in their life you have to remember to keep your software, operating systems, and applications up to date. Use two-factor authentication and a password manager. Use a VPN while browsing online. Most importantly, let your kids see you doing these things so that they incorporate these best practices into their own internet routines as they browse, play, and learn online.

2. Let students have their own tech space

Pruitt-Mentle advised parents to maintain a separate computer, or even a separate network for students, to avoid any risk to the computer parents use for sensitive transactions.

Children are bound to make mistakes. Sometimes these errors can be costly for your home network. It is a good idea to let children, especially teenagers, have their own computers for homework or hobbies. Whether it’s an inexpensive, relatively indestructible Chromebook or a full-featured gaming PC, keep your student’s activities separate from the computer you do important business work or transactions on. financial.

This way, if your child stumbles upon malware, it is less likely to affect everyone in the family. If another computer just isn’t in the budget, create a separate system account just for your students’ homework and make sure they’re using it.

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Of course, you’ll need to make sure your child’s PC has the right security software. You will need anti-virus at the absolute minimum, and you may also want to configure older children with a password manager. For the younger ones, you can also consider installing parental control software on the system.

If you are installing parental control software, be sure to tell the child is there, and why. Nothing will make your relationship conflicted faster than your child will feel like you are spying on them. This leads to the last point: talking to your kids.

3. Talk to your kids about safety

Remember the old “Stranger Danger” tactic of scaring your kids into safety? “This tactic doesn’t work with students,” Pruitt-Mentle said. “It may actually backfire on you.” Scare children is really not helpful. Instead, you must speak for them.

Talk to your kids about the real consequences of lax internet security, ranging from why you need to keep your software up to date, to what to do if you find your email address in a data breach. Explain to them why giving away personal information in exchange for free games or other virtual items is dangerous and can lead to identity theft.

Explain to your student how to avoid phishing scams that may appear in their inbox. Make sure they know it’s okay to speak to the adult in their life if they think they’ve clicked on the wrong link or visited an unsafe website. This is very important, and reasonable conversation can set kids on the path to safer online experiences during the school year and beyond.

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