WIT Cyber Tips: Educating Kids on Cyber Safety

This month’s blog posting is an excerpt from the WIT.Wire on kids and cyber safety.

WIT Cyber Tips: Educating Kids on Cyber Safety  

By: Lauren from WIT's Cyber SIG

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything - A. Einstein".

Keeping our children safe in the physical world comes natural for most parents, as we were all raised in that world and are well familiar with good safety practices. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case for the online/cyber world - where many of us have had little or limited exposure. Our children on the other hand, have fully adopted this cyber world as an intricate part of their lives. Unfortunately, so have the bad guys. So time for us to jump in and extend our safety nets!

Here are some simple things that will go a long way in protecting our children.

1.    Lock the doors! Just as in the real world, it's important to protect our valuables, including our privacy:
  • Use good strong passwords on every computer or device, and change them regularly
  • Don't give away passwords, even not to good friends, instead find a save way to store them in case they get lost
  • Don't give out private information to people you don't know in real life - including names, address, phone, email, date of birth, age

2.    There is no such thing as a free puppy!  Good clicking behavior is critical, so it's important to teach our children good online behavior.

  • Explain what pop-ups are, when they can and should not be used.
  • Go to your spam box, and show examples of SPAM mail
  • Never open attachments or click embedded links in mails of unknown senders and/or mails that look suspicious
  • If you do know the sender, but the mail looks suspicious, call the sender and verify if he/she genuinely sent the message

3.    Stranger Danger Similar to real world safety, explain the dangers of strangers with your children:

  • Only communicate with people you know in the real world - don't let people trick you in pretending they know you. Friends of friends aren't real until you meet them in the real world
  • Coach your child to reach out to you when they encounter anything uncomfortable or creepy on the net, ensure that no matter what we're there to help and protect.
  • Online friends stay online - coach them never meet in person with people they met online. If they do intent to, make sure they let you know and take a trusted friend with them
  • Leverage real life examples (news, ...) to highlight the dangers

4.    Everything can and will be used against you Whatever gets on the net, stays on the net and becomes part of one's digital footprint. So proper education is needed. Every post or silly picture might not seem to matter now, but it can matter 10 years from now as most colleges will screen student's digital footprints before admitting them to their program.  

  • News headlines are an effective tool to teach the effects of posting of improper content

5.    One app a day keeps the bad guys away When it comes to cyber safety, there's no better way to help your kids than by being involved.  Ask them what about the latest cool app, or their favorite game, play with them, connect with them. You'll get to know their habits and attitude, and it will be far easier to adjust where needed.

6.    Internet - 911  
 Mistakes happen, and when they do it's important that kids know where to turn to. Parents and trusted adults should always be their first go-to person. We are there to protect them both offline as online.

  • Additional help is available and can easily be found online. Here are just a few to go:

Report a cyber crime




Additional resources for parents and children:



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