There are so many life lessons that parents must teach their kids, and it can be overwhelming. Some lessons just make their lives better, like understanding how to handle credit responsibly or how often to change the oil in the car. Others can have life-threatening implications, like avoiding drugs and drunk driving.
Some of these important lessons fall in the middle of the spectrum. Cybersecurity, for example, can have consequences ranging from mildly annoying to nearly fatal. It encompasses everything from accidentally downloading a virus that eats your term paper to facing the terrors of cyberbullying, sextortion and malicious imposters who seek them out in the offline world.
One of the most important aspects of helping your children navigate connected life is communication. Just as talking to your kids about other sensitive topics is never a “one and done” conversation, you have to tailor your talks to their developmental level, the type of internet use they’re engaging in at that age and the kinds of threats they’ll likely face at that point.
October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the focus of week one is how cybersecurity begins at home. Lessons on every aspect of our physical and emotional safety begin with those who care about us the most, and internet safety is no different. Creating an environment of secure internet access and understanding leads to life-long Cyber Aware users.
Stay Ahead of Child Identity Theft
Considering there were one million victims last year, it’s also important that parents understand the ramifications of child identity theft, starting with how someone could get their hands on a child’s personally identifiable information. Not too long ago, the most likely culprits were those close to the family – people who could get their hands on a child’s documents.
Now, thanks to crimes like hacking and large-scale data breaches – especially in the healthcare and education sectors – stealing a child’s most sensitive information isn’t only committed by people who can access important documents. The ITRC’s Data Breach Report shows the different types of industries where anyone’s information can be stolen, especially a young person’s.
Fortunately, there are some tools at parents’ disposal that can help them protect their children. Apart from ongoing discussions about internet crimes, scams, fraud and identity theft, concerned parents can request copies of their children’s credit reports and place freezes on their children’s credit reports from the three major credit reporting agencies to prevent anyone from opening accounts or lines of credit using the child’s information.
Adopting Good Habits is Our Shared Responsibility
Finally, adopting good habits for sharing your kids’ information or personal business with outsiders is a great way to reduce the risk of child identity theft. Be mindful of the things you post on social media, such as inadvertently sharing your child’s birthdate, your or your spouse’s maiden name and the city where the child was born. Ask serious questions about who needs your child’s sensitive data – and who will be able to see it – before handing it over. If you’re not satisfied with the security involved, simply refuse to provide that data.
As with so many other issues, you are your children’s strongest ally and advocate. Their identities and their cyber safety are no different. Fortunately, with tools from the Identity Theft Resource Center and the National Cyber Security Alliance, there is plenty parents and children can do to stay ahead of everyday identity threats.