For older children who’ve come of age since the advent of the internet, giving them another ‘be safe online’ lecture can provoke yawns. But it’s hugely important. Unlike many parents, for a lot of teen-agers, the virtual world represents a place in which they sort of grew up, a kind of online neighborhood that feels safer than it really is.
Making sure your kids are staying safe online becomes even more important as they grow into their teen-age years and become less than enthused about parental involvement and are less transparent about their online activities. Having safe internet habits as they go off to college to get that IT degree can go a long way to keeping them safe and keeping you worry free.
An obvious but often overlooked place to start teaching your children online safety is how to keep their online information secure. This starts with a good password. Even people who ought to know better are often guilty of having one relatively insecure password that they use for everything. This means that in the event of a hacked password, the hacker can easily gain access to all their information, including online banking and other sensitive financial information.
The best way to ensure that your child’s passwords are never hacked is to encourage them to have a high quality hard to break password that is unique to each online site which requires a password. This may seem like a hassle, but if done properly can save a world of heartache later. Passwords should be at least ten characters long and include letters, numbers and symbols.
A great way to craft a tough to break password is to take all of the first letters of words in a randomly chosen sentence and put those letters together. If you add a random series of letters and symbols at the end, you’ll have a very tough password for anybody to crack. Your kids will need to keep track of their passwords in a small notebook. This can be the Achilles heel though.
Obviously, the best password in the world is no good to them if any other dorm dweller can access it. They’ll have to make sure they keep it absolutely safe in a location known only to them (or maybe to you as well if they’re still at home and you’re wanting to keep tabs on them).
Another issue dealing with online etiquette in which kids should be well versed is appropriateness in online interactions. A good rule of thumb for kids—even when they’re interacting with peers on Facebook or other social media sites—is to always imagine another audience having access to those interactions.
Future bosses, human resources folks, even future spouses; these are the kind of people your kids should always keep in the back of their minds when they’re spontaneously posting photos and providing too many intimate and perhaps inappropriate information. College aged kids frequently post questionable photos, forgetting perhaps, in the moment, that these things live on forever in cyberspace.
About the Author: Stephen owns and also writes for: Technected.com
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