Teach Your Children To Recognize and Avoid Internet Scams

Tips to help protect your children and your family from Internet scams: Internet ScamBusters #212

Today we have another Special Issue for you. It’s called “Teach Your Children To Recognize and Avoid Internet Scams.”

If you have children or grandchildren, do you want to provide them with the ability to explore all that the Internet has to offer and help them stay safe from the dangers? Today we’ll help you teach your children how to protect themselves from Internet scams and more. We think you’ll agree that we have some terrific resources for you.

On to today’s Special Issue…

Teach Your Children To Recognize and Avoid Internet Scams

Let’s face it, many of our children know as much or more than we do about computers. However, what they don’t know about Internet scams can hurt them.

While computer-savvy toddlers are generally not at risk, as soon as your child is able to go online and type information into a search engine, email, or peer chat room, a whole world of concerns can arise.

A child’s innocence opens them up to inappropriate material. It also exposes household computers to viruses and family members to online predators, Internet scams, spam and identity theft.

Take heart! With the right information, tools, and communication you can protect your children and your computers.

What You Can Do:

1. Educate yourself. The first step you should take is to learn about possible threats to you and your family. Internet scams affect the security of your PC and your personal information. Become aware of how the Internet affects your child’s safety too.

If your children are old enough to be downloading programs, music and games from the Internet, then find out what sites are trusted sources for this information (see below).

If your children have email accounts, learn how to recognize spam and scams. Find out about the social networking sites that your child may be part of. Learn the risks related with those websites.

2. Teach your children. Once you know the threats, you can begin to explain them to your children.

  • Tell them why they should not offer any personal information to strangers.
  • Depending on their age, teach them about all Internet scams, identity theft, copyright laws, and virus threats from unfamiliar downloads.
  • Educate them about the risks of posting personal information and pictures on social networking sites.
  • Tell them what to do if they view inappropriate material online.
  • Guide them in how to deal with communications from Internet strangers including people in forums, chat rooms, and social networking sites.

When told in a simple language, even the youngest child can understand possible threats. For example, you can tell your child that they shouldn’t download anything unless they know who it is from because people put programs inside of other programs that can break the computer.

3. Make family rules. An important step to online safety is to make a list of rules that all computer users must follow to protect the family from online scams.

Your family should make your own list, but depending on the ages of your children, your rules might include some of the following:

  • Do not download anything unless a parent approves it.
  • Do not click anything inside a “pop-up” window.
  • Do not share any personal information with websites or strangers.
  • Only visit parent-approved websites.
  • Do not open any email that is from a stranger.
  • Do not forward emails to mass groups.

4. Invest in anti-virus and anti-spyware software. Protecting your computer from viruses is very important, with or without children. Always keep your virus protection and anti-spyware software running and up to date.

Always use a firewall.

If your computer has personal information (and almost all do), consider using passwords to log onto the computer.

These simple measures can go a long way to protecting your family from Internet scams.

5. Consider watching your children’s computer usage. You can do this by keeping the computer in a central location in the house. You can also install web-monitoring software.

While the Internet can be the source of many scams, it also provides information to help you fight those scams. In fact, there are online sources, including our site, ScamBusters.org, dedicated to keeping you and your children aware of online threats and Internet scams.

Three great sites with information on how to protect and educate your children:

1. The National Cyber Security Alliance offers tools for parents to teach their children Internet safety.

2. SafeKids.com offers articles on protecting your children from Internet scams and online predators.

3. WiredKids.org offers articles and information for children ranging from age 7 to 18 as well as information for adults and parents. It offers children articles, video clips, and stories written by children for children. Not all content is about online safety.

The Internet is a wide, wonderful place. It offers an amazing chance to learn, and it doesn’t have to be a scary place.

The most important way to keep your children safe is to teach them about Internet scams and threats. Teach them how to stay safe. Let them know that they can always talk to you if they have questions about Internet scams and staying safe.

Time to close — we’re off to take a walk. See you next week.