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How to keep your kid safe online

Blog Post
2 min read
two kids looking on an electronic device

From bike helmets to seat belts, there are a variety of tools that help youngsters navigate the dangers of the physical world. But what safeguards are in place to protect them from online scammers? When a family doesn’t have an online safety plan in place, criminals could steal a child’s identity and use it to open new credit accounts. 

Steering clear of these crooks isn’t as easy as clicking a belt or securing a clasp. Since you can’t predict which websites young children will visit or which ads they’ll see, teach them cyber skills they can use to avoid trouble. 

Let them know that they should never:

  • Share personal information with new online friends. Scammers only need a few pieces of sensitive data to create a new credit profile. While your child might be eager to get to know a new cyber pal by sharing sensitive information, e.g., full birth date, complete street address, etc., this could be the beginning of an identity theft scheme. 

  • Keep secrets about online activity. Encourage your child to talk about their online use, whether or not you’re able to monitor it. If they’re reluctant to share much detail, there may be little to tell. Or it could mean they fear they might have done something wrong. Let them know that their safety is what you care about most.

  • Download apps without your approval. Young kids often use the internet to download popular gaming apps to their devices. Without realizing it, they might download an imposter app designed to unleash malware that tracks keystrokes when entering passwords, reads text messages, and/or monitors video chats. These are all ways crooks can gain access to sensitive information about your family. 

  • Be afraid to tell a trusted adult about someone who asks for private information. Tell your child that you’re not the only one they can talk to about their online activity. If you have a relative or close friend who you can trust to reinforce your stance on cybersafety, ask if they would partner with you to protect your child from online scams.

As a parent or caregiver, it’s also crucial that you:

  • Stay alert to behavioral changes in your child after they use their electronic devices. Angry outbursts or withdrawn behavior may signal attempts to conceal certain online activity.

  • Make sure your child understands that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Scammers make false promises to get people of all ages to reveal confidential information. 

  • Give your child permission to say “no” to other adults. A young child might feel uncomfortable or scared they’ll disappoint someone if they refuse to share private details about themselves or their family. Remind them that kids and adults must set boundaries so they can stay safe on- and offline.

Whether your child uses the internet for school, games, or chatting with friends, we suggest parents regularly discuss safe ways to use connected devices. Bear in mind that setting parental controls isn’t a replacement for monitoring online activity. Parents must remain active in their kids’ online lives to keep them safe. Remember that sneaky criminals use a variety of tricks to convince young minds to fall for scams.