8 Internet Safety Rules to Keep Your Family Safe Online
What is internet safety and why do we need it? Today, more than ever, the internet dominates our daily lives when it comes to socializing with friends and family, sharing music, images, and photographs, reading the news, sending communications, shopping, and paying our bills. While the internet certainly makes our lives more convenient, our personal information and identities can be at risk because of it. To protect you and your family, refer to the following internet safety rules that will show you exactly how to be safe online:
1. Keep passwords secure.
The best online safety advice starts with passwords. We use passwords for social media accounts, email accounts, apps, shopping accounts, banking, and more. Creating strong passwords, which don’t spell out common words or names, and that use various symbols and numbers, can prevent others from hacking into your accounts. Consider changing your passwords regularly, too. To add an extra layer of protection, create a password to login to your phone and computer, as well.
2. Computer viruses.
Install an antivirus protection package. You should be able to purchase a package or download one free of charge that can be downloaded on all of your computers. When checking your emails, be wary of any communications you receive from unknown addresses and do not click on them. Beware especially of emails from accounts which look authentic but ask you to verify a password or reveal personal information. If it’s questionable, contact the company directly to see if the email request is legitimate.
3. Protect Your Identity.
Identity theft can happen to anyone anywhere and at any time. Most people’s personal information can be easily accessed just by searching their social media accounts or by doing an internet search of their name. When using your social media accounts, don’t make it a practice to “friend” people you don’t know who could be privy to your personal information, friends, posts, photographs, and preferences. Consider purchasing identity theft protection plan for all members of your family. These types of plans will alert you of any suspicious activity and protect you in the event that your identity is stolen. Check your workplace and other organizations to which you belong (such as AAA), which may offer an identify protection plan at an affordable price.
4. Social media.
How can you be safe online regarding your social media accounts? Your internet safety begins with reviewing your privacy settings. Check your settings every so often because some social media sites may change their privacy settings without your knowledge, increasing the potential of you exposing your personal information. Never post your address, telephone number, or other personal information to any of your accounts for others to see. Nor should you post that you are going out of town or on vacation. An extra layer of internet safety protection for your family members, especially your minor children, is to use privacy protection on photographs and not allow photos to be shared. Respect the age limitations for social media accounts and do not allow your children to create social media accounts until they reach the appropriate age or maturity level.
5. Monitor Your Children’s Usage of the Internet.
Begin establishing important internet safety rules for your family by locating your family computer in a central location in the home. To safely filter Internet searches, you can elect to use a safe finder on your home computer browser or you can install parental controls software. Please do, however, keep in mind, that most children are more tech savvy than parents, and that many can find ways around these types of monitoring. Your best bet is to have a conversation with your kids, educating them about appropriate behavior on the internet, including maintaining their privacy and behaving appropriately. They should never post their private information or contact information, and never share anything that they would not feel comfortable sharing with you. Remind them that anything posted on the internet remains there forever, regardless if they delete it later. You may also want to limit your child’s usage of the Internet at home and arrange a nightly Internet curfew.
6. Ward off bullying and online predators.
Your children, and even you, may be susceptible to bullying via email, texting, social media, and even computer video games that have chat features. Explain to your children that bullying is any type of harassing or disparaging remarks made to an individual. Warn your children not to get involved with any type of bullying or group bullying toward anyone else online, and to report any bullying that has been targeted toward them immediately to you or to another trusted adult. Discuss with your children what is and what is not appropriate behavior on the internet, and that some people may not be who they say they are on their online profiles. Don’t scare your children, but do warn them that some people who may seem friendly may not have the best intentions. Tell them not to get involved in conversations when they are being asked to disclose personal information. Instead they should block the user and to tell you right away.
7. Monitor internet usage on your child’s phone.
Your child’s phone, like most modern phones, most likely has internet usage. You might consider turning off your children’s access to data until you feel they are mature enough to handle the technology responsibly. Check with your carrier if there are software programs that can be downloaded to monitor and filter your children’s internet access and keep them safe online.
8. Have a family meeting.
As a family, take the time to discuss the importance of internet safety. Check out any local events, classes, and talks about internet safety to keep up with new and ever-changing information. Search online for free online tutorials offering online safety advice for families, such as this one on GCF Learn Free.org at https://www.gcflearnfree.org/internetsafetyforkids/
Establishing internet safety rules for your family does not have to be difficult. Your goal as a parent is to keep you and your family save online.