Internet Safety Tips
Below are basic safety tips that when practiced will help keep you, your children, your privacy and information protected while using the computer and Internet.
Create a Strong Password
Strong passwords are a must in order to prevent unauthorized access to your computer. The following guidelines can help you ensure you are creating strong passwords for all of your online activity.
- Use a mixture of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, special characters, and punctuation marks.
- Include at least six characters, although in some cases eight or more are required. Each character added increases your protection.
- Avoid using sequences, repeated characters, and easily obtainable information such as your home address or initials in passwords.
- Become familiar with your password so you don’t have to look down at the keyboard. This makes it more difficult for over-the-shoulder readers to figure out your password.
- Use different passwords for different Internet sites.
- Memorizing your passwords is ideal. If you do write passwords down, make sure to store them in a safe place.
- Change your passwords regularly. (It is recommended to change them at least every six months).
Online Security Tips
- Avoid sharing passwords with others.
- Never provide your password over email or in response to an email request. If you are ever asked for your password or other personal information in an email, do not respond. This is a scam to obtain your identity.
- Avoid typing passwords on computers that you do not control. Public computers may have software that memorizes key strokes ultimately gaining your passwords and Internet browsing history.
- Remember to always log off of public computers.
- Only use secure sites when using personal information. When shopping online, make sure that the websites where financial information is entered begins with https:// and features a yellow lock icon in the bottom right corner or green address bar.
Social Networking and Blogging
- Establish rules for online use with your kids before they begin using social networking or blogging sites. This includes how much time they spend online and how often they can be online.
- Know the social media or blogging site. Does it provide private, password – protected blogs?
- Save the web address of your kid’s blog. Review it regularly.
- Pay attention to what your kids plan to post before it is posted. They may not realize that something they say could reveal who they are, where they go to school, where they live, etc.
- Teach your child to use only a first name or nickname, but not a nickname that would attract inappropriate attention. Also, do not allow your child to post their full name, the full names of their friends or other identifying information such as their home address, city, or school.
- Be aware of other identifiable information in your child’s profile. Teach your children to be careful not to reveal information that can identify them, such as a school mascot, a workplace, or the name of the town they live in. Too much information can make your children vulnerable to cyber bullying, Internet predators, Internet fraud, or identity theft.
- Encourage your children to tell you if something they encounter on the Internet makes them feel anxious, uncomfortable, or threatened. Let them know you will work with them to help resolve the situation positively.
- As soon as your children use the Internet on their own, establish rules for Internet use. These rules should define whether your children can use social networking sites and how they can use them.
- The recommended age to sign up for social websites (Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc.) is usually 13 and over. If your children are under the recommended age, do not let them use the sites.
- Teach your children never meet anyone in person that they’ve communicated with online only. It might not be enough to simply tell your child not to talk to strangers. Your child might not consider someone they’ve “met” online to be a stranger.
- You can help protect your children by encouraging them to use sites to communicate only with friends. Children should not communicate with people online that they have never met in person.
- Be smart about details in photographs. Explain to your children that photographs can reveal a lot of personal information. Encourage your children not to post photographs of themselves or their friends with clearly identifiable details such as street signs, license plates on their cars, or their school name on clothing.
- Teach your children about cyber bullying. As soon as your children are old enough to use social websites, talk to them about cyber bullying. Tell them that if they think they’re being cyber bullied, they should share this information right away with a parent, a teacher, or another adult that they trust. It’s also important to encourage kids to communicate with other people online in the same way they would face-to-face.
- Removal of your child’s page. If your children refuse to follow the rules you’ve set to help protect their safety and you’ve attempted to help them change their behavior, you can contact the social website your child uses and ask them to remove the page.
How to Block Websites
If you are looking for a way to protect your children from inappropriate websites, we have been testing K9 Web Protection and have had positive results with it. It is currently a free program for home use.
- Only put payment information into a web site that is secure. To check whether a site is secure, check that “https” is the prefix of the web page address. You should also click on the “lock” icon (an image of a padlock) to learn details on the site’s security. If everything looks good, the web site is a secure way to transfer your sensitive information.
- Monitor your credit card and bank statements. After making an online purchase, check your next statements to make sure that you weren’t charged any additional items or over charged. If you suspect a problem, contact the company you purchased the items from immediately.
- Carefully read the checkout page to be certain you are not signing up for any further charges (monthly fee’s, etc.)
Information compiled from Microsoft Youth Spark
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