Preparing Your Child to Function in a Digital World

With the ever-present interweaving of technology and ease of access to the Internet, parents can find it difficult to shield their children from the darker side of the online world.  Children need to be given guidance and training on proper online activity that will instill valuable habits. This should correspond to their development level and amount of access to the Internet in and out of the home.

Security awareness training company, KnowBe4, offers a free Children’s Interactive Cybersecurity Activity Kit to give parents, guardians, and teachers tools to help teach children about online safety and security in fun and engaging ways. The activity kit consists of a workbook with puzzles and games, a poster, and a short video.  Also included is a cyber hero pledge consisting of useful tips to help you keep children safe online, along with a family agreement that parents can review with children to set guidelines for using online devices.

Parents must pay attention when children show signs of being bullied either online or offline. The Alabama Office of Information Technology cybersecurity article Help to Stop Cyberbullying lists things to be watchful of in child behavior. Children not equipped to deal with bullying can turn to seeking friends online via games or social media. Bullied children can become a victim of fraudsters and predators as they are taken advantage of while seeking friendship online.  Children do not know that with basic personal information someone can open an account in their name and assume their identity.

According to an independent research report published by Javelin Strategy and Research, 2018 Child Identity Fraud Study, over a million children were affected by identity fraud.  Preventative steps are available to help parents and guardians stop this situation from occurring.  Just as adults check their credit reports annually the same should be done for children. The Identity Theft Resource Center has an article How to Check a Child’s Credit Report detailing how parents and guardians can check their children’s credit reports with the three major credit reporting agencies.

As children enter high school, cybersecurity guidelines instilled in them early will become invaluable, protecting them from cyber criminals.  Being able to identify a phishing email sent to their personal or school email can have direct impact on their future success. If a child’s identity is stolen, cyber criminals can apply for credit in their names and not be detected for years. The article Recognizing a Phishing Email is a good starting point for teenagers to learn how to spot a phishing email.  In the case of identity theft occurring knowing where to find information and who to contact is critical.  The Identity Theft Resource Center has a free app to assist with this called the ITRC ID Theft Help APP.

With the massive amount of information being produced daily everyone is susceptible to misinformation. More so teenagers with social media being a prime channel for spreading news quickly with little or no fact checking. According to the National Cyber Security Alliance, “49 percent of teens are concerned about mistakenly spreading fake news or misinformation over the Internet.” The Alabama Office of Information Technology cybersecurity website has curated cybersecurity resources to assist in identifying fake news sources.

Protecting children in the digital information age can be a challenging task for parents. The resources listed throughout this article can be of great value in assisting parents teaching their children how to properly function in a digital world. Bookmark the Alabama Office of Information Technology Cybersecurity website to stay informed on the latest issues and useful tips to stay safe online.