As surely as children need summer reminders about sunburn and water safety, these days online security is equally important.
Extra leisure time for kids usually translates to extra Internet time. June is Internet Safety Month and a good time to think about your children’s online safety and security.
It is vital that parents make it a practice to become familiar with precisely what their children are up to when they are using their digital devices.
Familiarize yourself with these:
▪ Apps. Know which ones your kids are using. Be sure they have come from reputable app stores and examine them to see what their privacy disclosures and settings are. If they share your child’s location with friends and family, be sure that only the right people have access to that location information.
▪ Games. Check out the games your children are playing. Look up their ratings and reviews to verify that they are appropriate for children. Play the games with your children to better understand them. Ratings are available at the website for the Entertainment Software Rating Board. Reviews of games are found at Common Sense Media.
When a game played online allows chat with other players, be sure your kids are careful about the information they disclose.
Social media, instant messaging, texts and emails are most often the platforms for cyberbullying. Be sure your child understands that they should let you know of any instance when someone is mean to them online.
Does your child understand the permanent nature of online postings? Anything put up online could come back to harm them in the future. Make it a practice to approve every picture your child posts.
Children can be alarmingly trusting. They may have been told not to talk to strangers but let them know that a stranger could be posing as a friend or relative in the digital world. Know who your child is chatting with online.
You should have your child’s passwords so you can keep tabs on who their friends are and what they are sharing with them.
The continued almost epidemic problem of online ID theft makes it mandatory that your child is not giving out personal or family information. Explain to them that they should avoid unsolicited emails and texts due to the danger of viruses and malware being downloaded onto their device.
Keep their virus software up to date as well as their operating system. Tell them to never share passwords with anyone except their parents. It should be their habit to get your permission before downloading or purchasing anything on the Internet.
Watch out for pornography. A child can easily come across it. The website SafeKids.com has assistance for parents who find their child has been viewing porn online.
Advertisers are tracking your children online. View a free online guide that explains privacy issues and other threats for children online by searching for the Better Business Bureau’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU).
Communication is key when it comes to kids’ online safety. Talk to them and try out what they are using online. Don’t be that uninvolved parent whose child gets into serious trouble as they fill their summer leisure hours with increased digital device usage.
Denise Groene is the state director of the Better Business Bureau of Kansas. Contact the bureau at 800-856-2417 or bbbinc.org.