Why You Need to Teach Your Kids to be Careful What They Search For Online

With information and video access at their fingertips most teens spend a crazy amount of time online looking for the latest gossip, hairstyles, and fashion trends surrounding celebrities. (Yes, it’s true: Internet searches for a certain “twerking” female singer outranked web searches for Syria last week six to one).

That obsession with popular culture combined with instant digital access is why McAfee’s Annual Most Dangerous Celebrities™ study is critical for families. This year, Lily Collins, star of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Mirror, Mirror, has been named McAfee’s 2013 Most dangerous celebrity to search for online.

Turns out, your teen’s passion may become a cybercriminal’s payday. Cybercriminals may be immoral but they aren’t stupid and have found ways to take advantage of the latest cultural trends—like new movies, award shows and television shows—to target unsuspecting consumers online, especially your tweens and teens as they are searching for the latest gossip on their favorite celebs. These criminals lure consumers to sites laden with malware that can steal passwords and personal information.


The research shows that if you are searching for Lily Collins, you have a one-in-seven chance of landing on a malicious site that has tested positive for online threats, such as spyware, adware, spam, phishing, viruses and other malware.

Here’s some tips to protect your family online:

  • Don’t download videos from suspicious sites. This should be common sense, but it bears repeating: don’t download anything from a website you don’t trust—especially video. Most news clips you’d want to see can easily be found on YouTube or Vimeo, and don’t require you to download anything. If a website offers an exclusive video for you to download, tell your kids not to do it.
  • Don’t “log in” or provide personal information: Teach your kids that if they receive a message, text or email or a link to a website that asks for their information—phone #, email, home address, Facebook login—for access to an exclusive story, don’t give it to them. Such requests are a common tactic for phishing that could lead to identity theft.
  • Put a PIN on it: Make sure your family has a passcode on your phones and other mobile devices. If your phone is lost or stolen, anyone who picks up the device could publish your information online.
  • Protect your devices and identity: Since your teens will most likely be searching for information about their favorite stars, make sure all of your household’s devices have comprehensive protection, like McAfee LiveSafe™ service, which protects all your devices from your PCs, Macs, tablets to your smartphone and provides a safe searching tool to prevent you from going to risky sites.

To learn more about Most Dangerous Celebrities™, click here.

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @SafeEyes
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