6 Tips for Teaching Teens How to Be Safe Online

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6 Tips for Teaching Teens How to Be Safe Online

May 2, 2016

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6 Tips for Teaching Teens How to Be Safe Online an Expert Guest Blog SmartSocial.com

Teens are constantly on the Internet shopping, emailing, watching videos, talking to friends and posting on social media, so it's important to teach them how to be safe online. If your child is at home on the computer, you might take comfort in knowing he or she is safe at home, but what you don’t realize is that there are plenty of security risks that stem from spending time online.

Teens have grown up with unlimited access to the Internet – it’s almost second nature to them – so they tend to be more online savvy than their parents, but they also tend to be more careless when it comes to protecting their identity. Between sharing passwords, leaving devices logged in at friend’s house or reusing the same password, teenagers generally don’t realize their lax security habits are making them susceptible to attacks from hackers and predators.

Industry expert Kevin Shahbazi shares his best tips for teaching teens how to be safe online. Here are 6 ways you can teach your teens how to be safe online

1. Identify phishing sites

Clickbait is a tactic that phishing sites use to deliberately fool readers into giving up personal information. - Kevin Shahbazi
    We’ve all seen those clickbait headlines – “The Hot New Phone Everybody Is Talking About” or “You Won’t Believe What Justin Bieber Just Did!” – that pull us in to find out more. Clickbait is a tactic that phishing sites use to deliberately fool readers into giving up personal information in order to infect their devices with malware, or intrusive software that allows a hacker to access personal information. When gauging the validity of a site, show your teen how to hover his or her mouse over a link to see the destination of the site and avoid links leading to unfamiliar websites. If you’re unsure about the validity, check to see if the site has a social media presence, how many people are following its pages and if they post content on the site often. If there are no social pages, have fewer than a couple thousand followers or haven’t put up any recent content, you should likely avoid that site. Before you open an email, make sure you are familiar with the sender. Other red flags are emails that ask for personal information or ask you to click on a link leading to another website. Know that if something seems suspicious, it probably is.

2. Protect your passwords

Password managers can help your teens to stay organized and productive online. - Kevin Shahbazi
    Passwords provide access to all of your teen’s important personal data, so it’s crucial to practice good password hygiene yourself so that your teen can learn from you. Your number one rule should be stop reusing passwords. Although using multiple variations of the same password is convenient, it’s equally as convenient for hackers to steal it. Strong passwords should be unique, include random numbers and letters, leave out personal information like a birthday, and be different for each and every account. Sharing passwords for Netflix, Hulu and other services should also be avoided completely. A friend logging into your teen’s account on a faulty network could result in rendering your accounts, including financial ones. The best way to keep passwords strong and securely share passwords is to use a password manager.
    A free password manager, like LogMeOnce, ensures you can keep track of who has access to what passwords and also provides additional layers of security. Password managers allow you to create random, unique passwords for each site you use to ensure the password is as secure as possible. Password managers can help your teens stay organized and productive online by storing login credentials so they only need to remember one master password to access all of their online accounts quickly and securely, making it easy to deter from duplicates.

3. Shop safely online

Delete credit card information on any website after making a purchase and clear your cookies. - Kevin Shahbazi
    When your child reaches his or her teenage years, it’s common for parents to start giving their teen the freedom to make purchases online. This brings the risk of fraud and card theft, not to mention overspending without permission. Allow your teen to get comfortable with this new responsibility by providing them with a prepaid credit card. Teach teens to properly judge the reliability of websites and online vendors by showing them how to use a website analysis site, like Comodo Web Inspector.
    All you have to do is copy a suspicious website’s URL (address) and paste it in the search section; secure URLs begin with https://. After making a purchase, delete credit card information on any website and clear your cookies.  

4. When and when not to download software

Familiarize your teen with legitimate ways to stream or download content online. - Kevin Shahbazi
    Aside from the ethical concerns about illegally downloading pirated music and movies, doing so also increases the risk of downloading viruses and malware – even entering a pirated site could put your devices at risk. Make sure your teen avoids downloading software and visiting untrustworthy websites. Similar to phishing, an untrustworthy website provides false information typically with the intent of stealing personal information. Take the initiative to download security software on your teen’s devices like Avast and Panda Free Antivirus.
    Familiarize your teen with legitimate ways to stream or download content online through services like Spotify and Crackle, and teach them about the implications of doing so illegally.

5. Keep your identity private

Your teen should never give out your address or their location online. - Kevin Shahbazi
    Your teen should never give out your address or their location online. Even small clues like sharing what high school your teen attends on their Facebook profile or tagging their location on Instagram when on vacation is enough information for a hacker or predator to target them. Tell your teen not to post a picture of a boarding pass or a new driver’s license to social media because it is an easy way to give hackers access to personal information. Social Security numbers, addresses, phone numbers and any financial information is private and should stay that way. Even if they want to enter their birthday to sign up for an app or game online, developers may share that information with marketers and other companies without their knowledge, which can be used to send targeted phishing emails.  

6. Avoid using public Wi-Fi

Encourage your teen to refrain from sharing any sensitive data on public Wi-Fi. - Kevin Shahbazi
    Free public Wi-Fi is available everywhere and may save you on your phone bill, but the risk that comes with using public Wi-Fi is high because it’s an easy way for hackers to access financial or personal data. Connecting to public Wi-Fi is inevitable, but you can tell your teen to take precautions on your phone like telling it to “forget” the network you were just on once you’re finished with it, keeping your phone updated to the latest version of the system update and even changing the passwords to sites you visited on public Wi-Fi to help prevent hacking. To be safe online when using public Wi-Fi, enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) which includes a password and, in addition, something like a fingerprint or a code that gets texted to your phone number. Enabling 2FA requires your teen to enter a second piece of information that intruders are not aware of. Encourage your teen to refrain from sharing any sensitive data on public Wi-Fi by making online purchases or accessing a bank account.

It’s important that your teen begins practicing good cybersecurity habits as early as possible to minimize the possibility of falling for a hoax or being hacked in the future. If storing their personal information online, be sure they understand how to store their data in a secure location and educate them on proper security procedures.

How else do you teach your kids to be safe online? Let us know in the comments below!

About our guest blogger
Kevin Shahbazi, CEO of
LogMeOnce, is an experienced industry executive with over 27 years of proven leadership in business management and technology. An accomplished serial entrepreneur, he has co-founded multiple successful companies, including Applied Technologies, Trust Digital, eView Technologies, and Avocado Security. Learn more about Guest Blogging for SafeSmartSocial.com

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