Back to School: 5 Cybersecurity Habits to Teach Your Kids

With back-to-school time already here, cybersecurity should be at the forefront of every parent’s mind. Kids are exposed to more devices – both in the classroom and at home. While their school may already be taking precautions to protect their data while they’re in the classroom, and many of their personal phones have parental controls on them, there’s still more to teach them. This is especially the case with the rise of IoT devices and wearables aimed at kids – such as low-cost smart watches – which often skimp on a basic layer of security to make them affordable. So while the cost is low, the risk of them being vulnerable to attacks is high.

Kids, in particular, are easy targets for cybercriminals because they lack awareness of tell-tale warning signs that something is off when browsing the web. Cybercriminals can also hone in on where kids are the most vulnerable and unassuming online -think chat rooms, online video games, and social media.

To get ahead of this, it’s worth being proactive about teaching your kids online safety habits so that when they do encounter a new device, network, or challenge, they have a set of safety habits in place to make smart digital decisions.

Here are some 5 cybersecurity habits to teach your kids about cyberthreats and sharing online to start practicing:

  1. Know where your devices are at all times. Kids are notorious for leaving or forgetting their belongings. It’s vital to teach your kids to be extra careful about not leaving their devices unattended. Bad actors are always on the lookout to steal devices because when they get one, they have unlimited access to personal information.  Teach your kids the importance of keeping their mobile device in a secure place.
  2. Beware of what you’re clicking on. Teach your kids what “phishing” means and help them understand what “phishy” links or messages might look like across email or social media. One accident could lead to a case of stolen identity.
  3. Keep your social media in check. Social media can be fun, but it’s also a source of concern. Teach your kids not to accept friend requests or followers if they don’t personally know them.  Also, keep a close eye on all your child’s accounts and set their privacy settings to the highest level possible to avoid compromising data. Turn off location services on all their devices so people can’t track them. Similarly, teach them not to give out their location when they are posting so people can’t follow them to a real-world location.
  4. When it comes to passwords, sharing isn’t caring. Kids love to chat. Teach your kids that passwords are private and should be kept to themselves unless there is family involved. It is also important to teach them to set up a unique, unbreakable password (i.e. not using their name and changing the factory settings on new purchases). Lastly, start imprinting the habit of changing passwords every so often so it’ll stick with them their entire lives.
  5. Stay on a secure network. If your child can connect to Wi-Fi, teach them the importance of finding a secure network to avoid unnecessary vulnerabilities.

By starting these conversations early and teaching your kids or teens these basic tips, they’ll be set up for success and over time, can learn to turn these regular safety habits.

Interested in learning more about IoT and mobile security tips and trends? Stop by, and follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like” us on Facebook.

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