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Cyber Security
A mother and daughter smiling as they look at a tablet together

Why It’s Important to Talk to Kids About Cybersecurity

When you’re a parent, you do everything in your power to keep your child safe from harm. This means teaching them valuable lessons, like looking both ways before crossing the street or not talking to strangers.

In recent years, however, the internet has become the primary playground for children to learn and play. On average, children ages 8 – 12 spend 4 – 6 hours a day online. Teens spend up to 9 hours a day on the internet.

That’s why it’s more important than ever for parents to talk about cybersecurity with their kids. Teaching children basic internet safety practices helps protect them from hackers and other cyber threats.

As a broadband internet provider, online safety for customers of all ages is our top priority at NDTC. Keep reading to find three reasons why parents should talk to kids about cybersecurity. We also provided a few talking points to use when discussing cyber safety with your children.

Two young parents looking at a laptop with their son

3 Reasons to Discuss Cybersecurity with Kids

1. The internet is part of everyday life.

From doing homework to gaming to staying in touch with loved ones, the internet is an integral part of everyday life for most kids. Parents need to educate their children that the internet is full of threats, just like the real world.

2. Kids are increasingly targets of cybercrime.

Children are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime due to their trusting nature and lack of experience. They may not know how to spot a scam or phishing email, for example, which makes them more likely to fall victim to identity theft or other cybercrimes.

A young boy playing video games on a desktop computer in a dark room lit with neon lights

3. Damage from a cyberattack can last years.

If a criminal succeeds in obtaining your child’s sensitive information, they could use it for many years. This can lead to major financial problems for your child in adulthood and wreak havoc on their credit score. Additionally, they may experience emotional damage for years to come from having their personal information stolen.

While cybersecurity is a serious topic for kids of any age, there are basic steps kids can take to protect themselves online. This includes making strong passwords, never giving out personal information without a parent’s permission, and avoiding suspicious links. But how do you start the conversation? We’ve provided some talking points in the next section.

Cyber Safety Talking Points for Parents

Chances are your child has been using technology for most of his or her life. Many kids know how to operate a smart phone or tablet by age 2. However, parents should start teaching their kids about cybersecurity as soon as they know how to connect to the internet on these devices.

Here are a few topics to discuss when talking about cybersecurity with your kids:

  • Be careful about what you post online, as anything you share could be on the internet forever.
  • If you receive a message from someone online telling you to click on a link, do not click on it until an adult has reviewed it – even if it’s from someone you know.
  • Cybercriminals are real people who could hurt you or your family if they get your personal information.
  • Always create strong passwords for your accounts, and never use the same one twice.
  • Never give out your name, address, phone number, or other personal information without an adult’s permission.
  • If you see something online that makes you scared or uncomfortable, tell a grown-up right away.
  • Just like the real world, it’s important to be kind to others online and not say mean things to people.

Kids are naturally curious, so be ready to answer any questions they have and create an environment that encourages open dialogue. This will be an ongoing conversation until your child becomes an adult, so check in with them often about cyber safety. Continue to educate them as they get older and gain more understanding about online responsibility.

mom and daughter hugging after breakfast

While there are certainly many dangers that come with living life online, there are also steps that we can all take to protect ourselves from potential harm. By starting a conversation with our kids about cybersecurity once they start using the internet, we can help them learn how to stay safe while still enjoying all the benefits that the internet has to offer.

For more tips about keeping your family safe on the internet, visit staysafeonline.org.

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