10 tips to keep your kids and teens safe online

Filed Under: Facebook, Featured, Privacy, Security threats, Social networks

Man helping small one, courtesy of ShutterstockAccording to a recent report, 86% of 7-11 year olds and 96% of 11-19 year olds are communicating online.

So here are 10 tips for you to share with your youngsters, to help make sure they're clued up about internet safety.

1. Lock down your Facebook page. Make sure your profile is only shown to your friends - not their friends too and certainly not the whole world! It's good to check your privacy settings regularly, too, because Facebook often updates them.

2. If you don't know someone on Facebook, don't be tempted to accept their Friend request.

3. Don't post anything anywhere on the internet if you don't want the world to see it. Once you've uploaded something, you cannot be sure that it will stay with just the person you've sent it to. So if it's private, don't share it!

4. Never give out your address, unless your parents have said it's safe and it's absolutely necessary (eg. when you are requesting a delivery). And never agree to meet in person someone you've met online.

5. Make sure you password protect your phone or any other device you use. And lock it when you're not using it.

6. Don't click on suspicious-looking links. If something looks strange to you, ask a parent or teacher if it's ok to click on it.

7. If your friend has sent you a message but it looks weird, or isn't something they'd usually say, check with them before you open it. It could be that someone is using their account to send messages which could be infected with something nasty.

8. Always log out! Make sure you don't leave any account open when you go away from your computer, phone or other device.

9. Follow these password rules:

  • Never choose passwords which are real words you'd find in the dictionary. Use a mixture of upper and lower case letters, swap out letters for numbers, and use symbols like % and $ too.
  • Make your password as long as possible. The longer it is, the harder it is to crack.
  • Be creative! Never just use the name of your favourite sports team or band, or your pet's name. They are too easy to guess, especially if you're previously shared that information online.
  • Use a different password for each website you use. If you struggle to remember them, you can use online 'password management' software to save them for you. But remember to make your 'master' password VERY hard to crack!
  • Don't save your password to your computer if you share it with anyone. And never give anyone your password. Not even your best friend. It's not silly to keep your password to yourself, it's safe!

10. And finally, if it doesn't look right, speak up! If you think something is suspicious or if you see something upsetting online, tell a parent or teacher, or report it to the website you're trying to use.

The Safer Internet Centre have released a quiz for people to check how safe they're being online.

And once you've got your children sorted online, you can always try to explain phishing to your Grandma.

Man helping little one image courtesy of Shutterstock

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7 Responses to 10 tips to keep your kids and teens safe online

  1. Wendy · 632 days ago

    As a parent, the #1 thing you can do to help your kids be safe on the internet is to have the computer they use in a common area, NOT in their bedroom, where they can be monitored. Our daughter uses her computer at a desk in the living room (parental controlled browser). You want to keep an eye on your kids' computing, don't put the computer in their room, where their activity can be more easily hidden.

    • David Pottage · 631 days ago

      I think that is usefull advice for an older child who knows when they are doing stuff online that they should not. In that case the fact that at any moment a parent could glance at their screen and see pr0n or the like will be a strong derernt against visiting such websites.

      I am not so sure that on it's own it it very helpfull advice for a younger child who could stumble across inapproprate materal entirely by accedent. For example, if your 6 year old is looking at Bob the Builder videos on YouTube, then it does not take many clicks on "related links" to get to something inapproprate. To stop that the parent needs keep a fairly close eye on what the child is doing, rather than just being in the room.

  2. Mike Samson · 632 days ago

    This campaign is all well and good but what I consider to be a much more serious issue for all, particularly children, is the danger of RF radiation from sources wi-fi, mobiles, radio masts, DECT phones.

    I suggest that all interested in following this up do some internet searching on this topic.
    The documentary by James Russell entitled 'Resonance. Beings of Frequency' on YouTube is a good place to start:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5vb9R0x_0NQ&fe...

    I imagine that wi-fi will be banned in schools in a few years time. Before that happens, I think there is a need for guidelines, technical modifications and recommended new procedures, particularly in homes with children, schools and public buildings.

  3. Dave · 632 days ago

    Unfortunately some sites still restrict passwords to 8-10 characters, letters only, and even case insensitive. Don't trust them with sensitive information.

  4. Nigel · 632 days ago

    Thanks for a great article, Anna. I note that there are many adults who would do well to follow the advice it contains.

  5. louise duval · 631 days ago

    I just read your comment, Mike. I couldn't agree more....
    We are told that this is perhaps the biggest biological experiment ever, and that many children are being put at risk, through the compulsory use of WiFi in schools.
    Here are some of the sites that use you-tubes and pictures to demonstrate the science, the concern, the health effects, and the countries who have now removed WiFi from libraries, schools, etc.: http://www.wifiinschools.com http://www.wifiinschools.org.uk http://www.safeschool.ca

  6. sofia · 561 days ago

    I think that you instead of totally banning your kids from meeting friends who they've met on the internet, you should allow them too meet, together with you! Remember that children can make strong friendships even on the internet, and banning kids from meeting their friends can make them very sad, especially if they don't have much friends outside the computer, or if they're bullied. So when your kid asks if they can meet someone they've became friends with on the internet, don't say no immediately! Instead, you can offer to follow your child when they meet up with their internetfriend!

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About the author

Anna Brading is Naked Security's editor. She has worked in tech for more than ten years and as a writer with Sophos for over five. She's interested in social media, privacy and keeping people safe online.