Our guest blogger this week is Daniel Sherwin, a single dad raising two children. At DadSolo.com, he aims to provide other single dads with information and resources to help them better equip themselves on the journey that is parenthood.

Most parents consider keeping their kids safe online a top concern. Yet, with all the potential for cyberbullying, online predators, and inappropriate content, parents aren’t sure how to go about protecting their children’s identity and mental health while allowing them to reap the benefits of being online. Our tips for discussing cybersecurity with your kids will get you started.


 Use Safe Internet Practices

One of the first discussion items should be computer security. They need to understand the importance of protecting their personal information including their PPS number, account numbers, passwords, birthdate, and home address.

They also need to be wary of free online offers, such as free games and ringtones that may be a front for malware. Ensure your children know not to download anything unless it is from a trusted source and has been scanned with security software.

Next, help your children create strong passwords. As a parent, you understand that your kids want to be independent and have some semblance of privacy, but you also need to have access to their accounts to make sure they are safe online.

When you work together to create passwords, you will know they are as strong as possible, and you will be able to periodically check on your kids’ content for peace of mind. Remind your kids never to share their passwords with anyone, including their best friends.


The Importance of Security Software or Services

Investing in reputable security software or services is just as important as investing in a home security system. Several security options are available to help you protect your children online, and many of them also offer protections for mobile devices and home televisions as well.

Spend some time researching the products and services before choosing the one that meets your family’s needs. Many security suites include antivirus, firewall, antispam, parental control, and other privacy measures for your home computers.

After you make your purchase and install it, talk to your kids about it. Tell them what to do if they receive a notification from the suite and why it is important that the security system runs in the background at all times. Remind them not to attempt to override the software or service and discuss the consequences of doing so.


 The Dangers of Cyberbullying

 When your kids follow your internet, they reduce their risk of falling victim to cyberbullying. Safe internet practices, such as being wary of strangers, keeping private information private, never sharing passwords, and using the apps, tools, and sites that you have approved, is your first line of defense against cyberbullying. However, tweens and teens love to use social media, and you cannot eliminate the risk of cyberbullying, even from people whom they know and see on a daily basis.

That’s why you need to establish house rules for social media to prevent your child from being a cyberbully or from becoming a victim of it. Begin by educating yourself about cyberbullying so you can help your children understand it. Then, discuss appropriate and inappropriate posts and texts with your kids.

Remind them to keep photos and discussions PG: if it’s not something they would want parents, grandparents, and everyone else to see, don’t post it or text it. Encourage them to pause before they post. Share stories of young adults who have lost scholarships, college acceptance, and jobs because of their social profiles, online posts, and cyberbullying.

Additionally, researchers have found that kids who have personality factors such as anxiety sensitivity, hopelessness, impulsivity, and sensation-seeking are at a greater risk for adolescent drug and alcohol abuse. Kids who fall victim to cyberbullying can become depressed, have anxiety, feel hopeless, or have suicidal thoughts, and they also are at a greater risk of becoming addicted to drugs and alcohol. That’s why it’s critical for you to discuss safe online practices and cyberbullying with your kids.

When discussing cybersecurity with your kids, be sure to explain and demonstrate safe internet practices, explicitly state the importance of security software or services, and honestly address the dangers of cyberbullying.

Image via Pixabay by cuncon