How to Keep Kids Safe From Online Identity Theft
Playing online video games and making videos can be a great way for kids to spend time and connect with friends, but experts warn that children are more susceptible than adults to identity theft and other scams. With clean credit scores, no debt, and a lack of awareness of the risks of identity theft, criminals find them to be prime targets. This makes it critical to take steps to protect your children’s identity from online scams. Here are a few ways to safeguard your child’s identity online.
General Online Safety
There are a few things you should make sure your child knows when it comes to general computer safety, and the first rule is simple, don’t talk to strangers. It is easy for kids to think this is safer than doing it in “real life,” but by replying to emails or other messages online, they may give away personally identifying information or click on links loaded with malware. So, it is important to apply this lesson online as well.
It is also important to teach them to log off of public computers such as at schools and libraries when they are done. Also, for kids that are old enough to shop online, teach them to check if a website is secure first by checking for the little padlock on the lower right-hand side or for a green address bar.
As your child grows more active online, they will start accruing more accounts and, as a result, passwords. This means they need to learn safe practices to ensure their passwords are secure. Some tips for teaching them include:
- Make Passwords Secure: Use upper and lowercase letters in addition to numbers and symbols.
- Use New Passwords for Every Account: It is important to ensure they use a different password for every account.
- Change Passwords Regularly: Passwords should be updated at least every three months.
- Keep Passwords a Secret: This is something many children struggle with. Studies indicate that the majority of children, even into high school, have shared their passwords with others.
Social Media Safety
As children get older and begin using social media, they often become more vulnerable than before. This makes it important to follow special steps to ensure their safety before letting them make their first account. Here are a few things to consider:
- Review the Website: Before your child makes an account, make sure you know what they will be doing and seeing on the site and familiarize yourself with how it works.
- Make Ground Rules: Work with your child to create rules about when they can be online, what information they can share, and whom they can “friend.”
- Protect Their Information: This means not using full names or posting information or photos that may reveal too much personally-identifying information. This means no linking to news stories about where they live or posting photos of the child in school uniforms.
- Watch What they Post: Many parents are worried about violating their child’s privacy, but everything on social media can be seen by just about anyone, so it is important to keep a close watch on yourself.
Kids are getting on the internet at younger and younger ages, and with online identity theft growing at an incredible rate, it is important to make sure your child is safe online. So, make sure your child is familiar with these online tips and knows how to surf the web safely.