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4 tips to keep your kids safe online

4 tips to keep your kids safe online

4/16/2014

When kids begin using the Internet, it's easy for their curiosity to run wild. While children's inquisitive nature can be a blessing in some aspects, it can often lead them into danger online. Parents should act as guiding forces, teaching their children how to recognize Internet threats and stay safe while browsing the Web. Here are four tips that will help parents ensure their kids' online security:

1) Implement family-friendly filters
Online filters can be helpful safeguards to protect children's Internet use. By implementing these restrictions, parents can guard their kids from unsafe or inappropriate websites.

However, filters should not be viewed as an end-all solution to Internet security. A recent column in The Guardian highlighted the concern that Web restrictions could prevent children from accessing useful sites that could facilitate their schoolwork activities. And while family-friendly filters can be effective for younger children, adolescents are often cunning enough to circumvent their parents' security walls.

"Teenagers find ever more inventive ways of getting around them, and sometimes that leads them to even more scary parts of the web," Vicki Shotbolt, CEO of The Parent Zone, told The Guardian.

Ultimately, filters are a helpful feature in many circumstances, but they should not be the only component of parents' Internet safety policies.

2) Be cautious about social media
Many kids are attracted to the idea of social media websites. Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr allow them to connect with their friends and stay in the loop. Parents should use their best judgment when deciding whether or not to give their children permission to use social media. If they choose to grant this privilege, they need to inform their kids about how to be responsible on these sites. Kids should learn to avoid posting personal information and be careful about who they communicate with.

3) Teach best safety practices on chat-based sites
The Huffington Post's Jeannie Borin recommended that parents' instructions place particular emphasis on chat rooms, email, blogs and instant messaging services. These platforms can give children an outlet to divulge sensitive information, putting themselves at risk of identity theft or other criminal activities. Therefore, parents should teach children to avoid posting their full names, phone numbers and addresses on these sites.

Additionally, kids must understand that their online posts could be seen by teachers, hiring managers or police officials. As such, parents must stress the importance of keeping posts and instant messages appropriate.

4) Inform children about cybersecurity
While identity theft and malware infection affect individuals of all ages, children in particular can have a difficult time recognizing these threats. According to ConnectSafely, some cybercriminals specifically target kids by posting malware-laced links to "fan sites" and "free" offerings. Parents need to teach their children that if a link looks too good to be true, it probably is.

If kids are using smartphones, parents must educate them about how to secure these devices properly. All mobile users, regardless of age, should use a PIN or a password on their phones. Keeping anti-virus software up to date is another must, and parents may want to take the initiative to install security updates on kids' phones themselves.

ConnectSafely pointed out that children can be particularly susceptible to identity theft because they usually have perfect credit scores. In some cases, younger victims of fraud don't realize that their identities have been stolen until they begin applying for student loans or credit cards.

With this in mind, parents may want to take special precautions to protect their children's security. ProtectCELL's identity protection program can help. The plan connects fraud victims with LifeLock resolution specialists, helping people of all ages recover their identities and protect their financial stability.

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