Internet technology changes at what seems like a lightning pace, so it can feel challenging to stay on top of it. Do you wish you were a more cyber-savvy parent or educator? Keeping ahead of the learning curve is important in order to teach teens safe and smart online habits.
So, here are 7 tips to help you take your cyber skills to the next level:
1. Teach your students to be cyber aware and cyber secure
Eric McGee, Senior Network Engineer, TRGDatacenters
Here are some tips to protect your children from online threats:
- Teach passwords and privacy: Help your children in developing secure passwords for all of their computers and online accounts. Teach them why strong passwords are necessary, how to build them, and why they should never be shared.
- Teach appropriate online behavior: Describe to your children what makes an appropriate, respectable (to themselves and others) online post.
- Protect identity and location: Protect your child’s identity and location by turning off photo geotagging on your Android or iPhone and reminding them not to post any personal details online, such as their age, school, address, phone number, last name, or any other personally identifiable information.
- Use secure wi-fi: To restrict outside access, make sure your home’s wi-fi has encryption and a strong password, and only share your password with people you know and trust.
- Use parental controls: Many children are given their first tablet or internet-connected computer before they are fully aware of the power they hold in their little hands. Use the built-in parental control features to begin taking precautions and monitoring their usage as early as possible.
2. All information online is public even if your profile is set to private
Timothy Robinson, CEO of InVPN
With these six tips, I became a cyber-savvy parent:
- Tell your child what a cyber threat is, how to recognize it, and what signs to look for. Help them in defining and articulating this in their own language.
- Monitor the platforms your students are using for privacy settings, terms and conditions, and access rights.
- Adhere to the age limits set by the platforms on different websites and don’t let your children access them.
- Set up a social media or internet use policy for your children using parental control apps so that you are all on the same page about what is a permissible and inappropriate online activity.
- Keep an eye on your child’s online activities and have regular conversations with them about the friends they meet, the games they play, and the risks involved.
- Even if your account is set to private and other users are unable to see your children, they are still exposed to the information. Assist them in making well-informed choices about the content they consume.
3. Play around on all of the apps your child is on to learn
Stacy Caprio, Deals Scoop
One tip to stay up to date as a tech-savvy parent is to download and use all of the newest social applications and tools your kids are using. This will allow you to get a feel for the type of content they are consuming each day, and how they are consuming it.
It will also allow you to have better conversations with them about not only technology but also the world in general. Maybe you can even follow them and tag them in some of your own posts and vice versa to start developing a technology-based relationship with them as well.
4. Subscribe to blogs and sites that teach cyber and media literacy
Matt Weidle, Business Development Manager, BuyersGuide.org
As a parent, I’ve been continuously subscribing to blogs and social media sites that promote digital and media literacy to keep my cyber-savviness on top of its game.
Keeping up with the current social media trends, technologies and apps can be overwhelming as a parent. That’s why for me, digital and media literacy is very important. There are numerous blogs and social media sites that help parents stay informed and updated about what’s happening in the digital space. These kinds of resources help you increase your digital and media literacy to keep your children safe from the dangers of cyberspace.
5. Use the web to find forums, groups, and tutorials
Sander Tamm, Founder & CEO, E-Student
Visit specific forums and groups: There are a lot of forums on the internet for specific interests and groups of people. On Facebook, you can type just about anything and you’ll be surprised that there’s a group for a specific interest. Search for groups focused on technology trends, cybersecurity awareness, phishing scams, and more. Reddit is one of the most popular forum platforms in the world and topics range from educational to inspirational. Be sure to stay focused and search for relevant forums about cybersecurity tips and knowledge.
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Study the current trends/apps/sites: Get ahead of your teens. Download the latest apps. Learn about the newest trends. YouTube is one of the best resources to find a free online course or tutorial on how to be safe online.
6. Set up Google Alerts to learn about all the latest cyber news
Lauren Patrick, VP of Marketing, Curricula
Set up a Google Alert for alerts about new phishing attacks and scams that are going around. It’s super easy to set up a Google Alert:
- Go to Google Alerts.
- In the box at the top, enter a topic you want to follow.
- To change your settings, click Show options. You can change:
- How often you get notifications
- The types of sites you’ll see
- Your language
- The part of the world you want info from
- How many results you want to see
- What accounts get the alert
- Click Create Alert. You’ll get emails whenever we find matching search results.
Every day, I get an email with news and articles about what’s happening with the biggest cybersecurity and phishing scams to see what ‘flavor of the week’ these hackers and bad actors are using to convince people to click on something they shouldn’t.
These are also some basic security protocols everyone should have in place.
- Be on the lookout for emails, texts, or phone calls from people you don’t know. Phishing (email), smishing (text), and vishing (call) are all getting worse. Be sure to tell your grandparents as well, since these scammers prey on the elderly more often.
- Don’t reuse passwords. Every password should be unique and stored in a ‘vault’ or password manager like Dashlane.
- Turn on two-factor or multi-factor authentication (2FA / MFA) so that if a hacker was to access your password, there’s another layer of security to prevent them from getting into your account.
7. Listen to your students talk about technology and ask other parents
Sarah Siegand, Co-Founder, Parents Who Fight
- Delegate Some Research to the Experts
Beat the learning curve by feeding yourself small, regular doses of the latest tech news.
There are so many great organizations researching the latest tech developments, app safety guidelines, and social media trends among teens and tweens. As a parent or educator, if you’re on social media, follow these experts! By doing so, you’ll regularly catch their great content and stay up to speed. Or better yet, sign up for their tips and tricks to be delivered right to your inbox. Beat the learning curve by feeding yourself small, regular doses of the latest tech news.
- Listen and Learn
When kids start talking about a new app or game, communicate interest.
Kids will keep you current on exactly what the “in” tech trends are if you just pay attention. When kids start talking about a new app or game, communicate interest by saying, “Show me,” or “Let’s check it out together.” Ask your kids thoughtful questions about how certain features work and engage their reasoning skills to see if they understand any potential risks in the technology they’re using. Probe their knowledge about privacy risks, mature content, and stranger danger in any new app or gaming system. Yes, they may be more cyber-savvy by nature, but as an adult, you are more life-savvy.
- Find Strength in Numbers
Plan a dinner party where a few friends bring their family mobile devices
No matter how technically defunct you may feel, you probably know at least one tech rockstar. And tech rockstars usually like to help people! Tap into that resource. Why not plan a dinner party where a few friends bring their family mobile devices? Over dessert, let the kids watch a movie while the adults get to work helping each other set up parental controls and other safety features, or just sharing knowledge about how things work. For educators, why not plan a special staff party where everyone takes a turn asking questions or sharing tips about the kinds of technology your students use? Group discussions always seem to bring new and needed information to the forefront.
- Start Slow and Keep it Simple
Start by diving deeper on one mobile device and two or three of the most popular apps kids are using.
We’ve all heard it’s better to do a few things really well than to do many things poorly. The same goes for mastering new technology. Rather than trying to learn about every device platform or all of the latest apps out there, start by diving deeper into one mobile device and two or three of the most popular apps kids are using. Parents and educators of younger children have a clear advantage in being able to more effectively pace their students’ tech appetites, thereby making it easier to stay on top of pertinent risk factors. With younger kids, you can start slowly with privileges and access learning how to protect one thing really well, then another, then another. However, if you are raising or educating kids who are already fully active online and in the social media cosmos, your best option is to talk openly and honestly with them about the risks they face. You may also consider utilizing software that limits access to certain apps, monitors activity, and enables time restrictions.
- Don’t Give Up
Our responsibilities as parents and educators demand that we stay engaged in our kids’ digital lives.
You may feel that technology is getting more and more complicated, so, therefore, there’s no use keeping up if you’re already behind. However, our responsibilities as parents and educators demand that we stay engaged in our kids’ digital lives. As easy as it might be to wish all of this tech complexity away, it just isn’t reality. In order to protect our kids in the digital world and train them to use wisdom online, we must continue to gain knowledge and understanding about the technology they’re using. Even if you’re only making small steps in your journey to becoming more cyber-savvy, the important thing is to keep moving forward. Don’t give up!
Although it might feel overwhelming to consider the seemingly boundless reaches of technology, it doesn’t have to be. There are more resources available than ever before to help you become a cyber-savvy parent or educator, and every journey begins with a single step. Lean into the expertise of others (even kids!), start slow and simple, and don’t give up. In doing so, you’ll discover new confidence to help you conquer the tech learning curve.
What cyber-savvy tips do you have to help other parents and educators? Share them in the comments below.