Internet banking and shopping can be incredibly convenient for your kids, but it’s not always safe. Following these handy tips can reduce some of the risks.
1) Show your kids how to avoid unsecure networks.
With access to tablets, smartphones and other Internet-ready mobile devices, it’s incredibly easy for them to hop on a network that’s not secured. If they do this, they unwittingly can leave personal data unprotected as they access bank and shopping websites. Encourage your kids to use only networks that require a network security key, and teach them to look for other clues such as the yellow shield icon Windows machines display for secure connections.
2) Get them to change their passwords frequently.
Multiple cybercriminals can be after the information in your kids’ accounts. What’s more, cybercriminals know that the data in those accounts is constantly changing, meaning they’re not necessarily going to attack the accounts only once. Have your kids change their passwords at least once every two months, and remind them not to use the same password for different accounts. Show them how to look for password change confirmation emails.
3) Remind them to use only trusted websites.
Many times kids don’t care what website they’re using to make a purchase or complete a download online—they just care about getting their stuff for cheap. Unfortunately, some of the websites your children might get onto are harmful. Teach your kids to recognize the difference between http (not secure) and https (secure) at the beginning of website urls, as well as the lock icon displayed in their Internet browser window.
4) Keep your antivirus up to date and use a good popup blocker.
Cybercriminals’ methods aren’t static. Keeping your antivirus up to date means you’re able to close new doors they’ve figured out grant access. In the same way, having an up to date pop up blocker means your kids won’t be seeing as many tempting ads or offers that can lure them away from their main objective and get them to share personal information.
5) Keep your kids focused on the objective.
It’s a rare website that doesn’t contain some kind of advertisement these days, and marketing emails that offer special prizes, bonuses or other offers are a dime a dozen. All these messages can get your kids over to other sites. Supervise your kids’ online banking or shopping sessions so you can give them gentle reminders to complete what they got on their computer or other device to do, and enforce an ask-me-first rule if they want to check out a different deal that looks good.
6) Limit the time your kids are online.
The longer your kids are online, the more likely it is they’ll get distracted and get into sites that could be problematic. Give them a time limit to complete their transactions, keeping in mind that new sites sometimes involve a bit of a learning curve. If they need more time, have them ask for it and show you what’s causing the holdup.
7) Set up challenge questions.
Most banks or online retailers that offer accounts now have you use challenge questions in addition to passwords. If someone tries to hack the account, they have to get past these questions in order to access your children’s data. Encourage your kids to use questions that have answers that aren’t readily obvious.
8) Encourage open communication with you and a “I know them” rule for everyone else.
Even though kids do need some degree of privacy, the more you and your kids openly communicate about purchases and banking activity, the more prepared you’ll be to help them through potential problem areas, and the more they’ll trust that you can give good advice. Let them know you’re around to help, and ask them questions such as “So were you able to find a good price on Website A for Item B?” to remind them money isn’t a brush-under-the-rug topic. As you do this, teach them that they need to know the people or company they’re sharing information with online—this is especially critical given the popularity of social media.
Going online to bank or shop isn’t something you necessarily need to ban with your kids, but they do need to take some basic steps to stay safe. These strategies are a good start for staying