In Cyber Safety, The Digital World

Family Safety on the Internet

You should spend a few moments here to learn more about family safety on the Internet. The Internet hardly resembles what it did in the mid-1990s when it was still in its infancy. In fact, many are still saying the Internet hasn’t yet blossomed into what it will eventually become. That’s why keeping you and your loved ones safe online is so important.

Many young children and teenagers enjoy social media, so much that a large percentage define their lives by how well they “appear” on the major social media sites. So, it goes without saying the need for safety online is absolutely critical. The exploitation of our youngsters is an everyday goal of many a pedophile and sexual abuser, not to mention the very real threat of identity theft. Below you will find several helpful tips to get you started talking to your kids and family members to make them aware of online safety and steps you and your family can take to remain safe on the Internet. First, however, as a parent or responsible party, understand this task falls directly on your shoulders and shouldn’t be treated lightly. Learning safety on the Internet is just as important as learning how to drive safely or any other activity where your child’s well-being is at stake.

Your kids might not know…yet

Depending on the age of your child, he or she simply might not know about the dangers of carefree web surfing or innocuous looking online chat rooms. Education starts here. Taking them by the hand, so to speak, and demonstrating what is a bad site and what isn’t. It’s hard to tell, but there is help. For example, many Internet security suites are available that offer a variation of proxy browsing that presents a layer of protection so malicious websites are detected. The software notifies the user by interrupting their surfing and either gives them a choice to continue, or will completely block the site depending on user settings.

The point is, the software will help protect your family from accidentally landing on one of these websites designed to trick the user into venturing far into the site, and while doing so collects personal information that is sent off to another server. From here, the criminal can launch attacks on your computer without your knowledge, wreaking havoc and stealing your personal information for their own gain. To help prevent this from happening, it’s strongly suggested that you purchase and use one of the latest Internet security suites currently available. They vary in price, but the maximum is around $60.00 per year. These security suites have evolved and provide good protection from hackers and malware. However, software alone is not a complete solution. Knowledge of the existence of these websites is the first place to start. From there, do your due diligence and study and learn how to recognize a malicious website before any damage is done. Here are a few techniques to use to help in this regard:

  • When surfing the Internet and you’re considering clicking on a fairly innocent looking link, right-click the link and select “copy shortcut”. Now, open up Word or Notepad and past the link there. Ask yourself if you’re sure this is where you thought you were going. If you’re worried, removed everything after “com” or “net” for example, and enter what’s left in your address bar. See where this takes you. If you’re satisfied, then continue with the entire link. But, be careful.
  • In the event you happen to click on a link and suddenly see you’re redirected to another site, stop it immediately and navigate back to the original link. Be aware that many legitimate sites will redirect you to a sales page or a landing page. In almost every case when this happens, you will be notified via a message that specifically tells you where you are being redirected to. You may have already seen this happen. However, in a small amount of instances when this happens, the message may or may not appear while you are being redirected. You have to use your best judgment in these situations.

Using these basic techniques will help keep you safe on the Internet, it can’t be stressed enough to learn all you can about the distinguishing marks of malicious websites. Just know the signs are there and can be spotted if you practice.

Talk to your kids

One of the most effective deterrents to keep predators and hackers away is talking to your kids about these very dangers. You will be surprised about how much they already know. This is such an important issue that it’s discussed everywhere young people access the Internet. Libraries, WiFi cafes and schools. As long as your children understand that you’re in this with them, they’re much more likely to understand the importance.

Although chat rooms have given way to social media for the most part, they still do exist and are as dangerous as always. The best advice is stay away, unless there’s a legitimate reason to join one. An example would be the chat room of an education forum. Even then however, do your due diligence. It’s OK to be a concerned parent masquerading as a snoop! You’re protecting what’s near and dear to you so don’t let a little embarrassment stop you.

When your child is first introduced to the Internet, don’t be surprised or dismayed that he or she will want to spend countless hours discovering this vast new world. But, it would be time better spent if you’re right there with your child. Let your children tell you about and show you the discoveries they’re making! It’s exciting for them, so show them the same excitement. The more involved you are, the more they will want to share their experiences with you. You’re building trust, so when the time comes they happen across a dangerous website they’re much more likely to bring it to your attention. Getting involved with your children’s online activities will help the whole family learn how to stay safe.

Kids need boundaries on the Internet

Once your family is comfortable with using the Internet, it’s time to set some boundaries. It’s not absolutely essential if you’ve already set a few along the way, but it doesn’t hurt to emphasize the important ones. These are the rules in place that if broken, come with consequences. The consequences are up to you, but please make sure the punishment will “match the crime”, so to speak. A universal truth of online behavior is the time spent online. Perhaps you might consider limiting the time your children spend online. Not only does this limit their exposure, but also reminds them family time is important, too.

Buying online

After all your hard work and patience teaching your children about total family safety on the Internet, the last thing you will want to happen is having your identity stolen after making a purchase online. What’s worse, having your bank account drained minutes after the purchase! A few pointers will help stop this criminals in their tracks.

  • Always check for security certificates clearly visible on the website, especially on the order form. If you don’t see them, do NOT enter any personal information. Cancel the order and buy from someone else who cares enough to display this information for you.
  • Look for an easy way to contact the company. Most legitimate websites welcome communication from you, whether in an email, post mail or telephone.
  • Look for a real mailing address in the “contact us” section. Again, most websites willingly offer this information. The exceptions include websites who don’t have a brick and mortar building. This is OK, as long as they provide other, easy methods to contact them.

As you can see, there are certain steps you should take to keep your family safe online. Yes, the steps might seem a little involved or even unnecessary at first. Please, stick with it and before you know it, you’ll be an expert and confident that you can surf anywhere on the Internet and know you and your family are safe!

Lastly, spend the time you need to stay up-to-date on security changes and new ways to foil advanced attempts to steal your personal information. Also, new versions of Internet security software suites are developed often, so it’s a good idea to keep up with this new software, too.

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