Is Your Teenager Cyber-smart?
“Is your teenager cyber-smart?” That question can sound scary, but what does it even mean? As parents or guardians, guiding and empowering your teens to navigate the digital world is crucial. By fostering open communication, educating them about online threats and implementing cybersecurity best practices, you can help keep your teens cyber secure. Encourage teens to participate in offline activities, hobbies and social interactions to develop a well-rounded and healthy lifestyle.
We’re in the Digital Age
Those that make up our adolescent population have encountered technology since birth. They don’t know a world without it. We laugh at how toddlers can quickly swipe through photos and navigate to the video they want to watch on a smartphone. It’s second nature for children to conversate with devices like telling the remote to turn on Bluey (better make sure your Alexa settings are set so you won’t end up with a plethora of pop-it fidget toys arriving at your front door!).
With each new technology learned, measures must be taken to ensure your teen knows the dos and don’ts of keeping them safe online. Read on to explore effective strategies to keep your teens cyber secure:
Practice Open Communication
Encourage your teens to come talk with you if they ever have any concerns about what is going on with any suspicious activity or cyberbullying they may encounter. Never judge and always be there with an open mind.
Educate about Online Threats
Phishing scams are everywhere lately, and your teens may not know how to navigate them. Make sure they know not to share any personal information or click on any links, even if they look legit. Strangers are always looking to take advantage of kids and teens. Ensure your child is aware of these bad actors.
Strong and Unique Passwords
Instruct your teens to create strong, unique passwords for each online account they use. Tell them to think of different passwords for each site they are on and use a password manager, like 1Password or BitWarden to help them manage them.
Teach About Safe Downloading
Teach your teens to be cautious when downloading or installing applications, software or files from the internet. Tell them to only download content from trusted sources, like the iTunes App Store or Google Play. Emphasize the importance of regularly updating their devices and applications to patch security vulnerabilities.
Talk About Safe Socializing
Teens are on so many social sites today it’s hard to keep up! But as an involved parent, it’s important to keep up with the trends and to make sure you are connected to your kid’s online presence. It’s good to see what they are posting and who is commenting. Talk to them about only accepting friend requests or engaging with individuals they know personally. Teach them about the potential risks of sharing personal photos or engaging in inappropriate conversations.
Install Antivirus and Security Software
Make sure the devices your teens are using are installed with the latest versions of reputable antivirus and security software. These tools help detect and prevent malware infections, phishing attempts and other cybersecurity threats. Explain the importance of running regular scans and enabling automatic updates.
Practice Digital Footprint Awareness
Most teens are unaware that their online presence leaves a trail behind them. Everything they do online is not only difficult to remove, but it can also impact their future. From applying to college to getting their foot in the door in a career, digital footprints can make or break a teen’s future if they aren’t careful. Anonymity doesn’t exist in an online world and one mistake, such as sharing a picture with someone they think they trust, can ruin their lives if that picture gets into the wrong hands. Make sure your teens understand this.
While living in a digital world, avoiding cyberspace is nearly impossible. The dangers that come from being online are only going to get more sophisticated. It’s essential to have an open line of communication with your teens so they are familiar with cyber threats and how to be secure when connected to the internet. It’s one more way you’re setting them up for success in adulthood, personally and professionally!