Scams and phishing attempts are an unfortunate reality. Even savvy and sophisticated users are targeted, and children are especially at risk as soon as they can answer the telephone or go online. Children have a natural innocence that opens them – and their family – up to predators, scams and identity theft. That’s why it’s incredibly important to teach children about internet and phone safety.
Educate yourself. Learn about possible threats to you and your family. Internet scams impact the security of your PC and your personal information. Be aware of how the internet affects your child’s safety, too. Investigate the social network sites your kids use. Learn and teach your kids how to recognize email scams.
Teach your children. When told in simple language, even the youngest child can understand possible threats. For example, you can tell your children not to click “OK” or “Accept” on anything that pops up on the screen. Tell them never to offer personal information to strangers, including contacts in chat rooms and social media sites. As kids get older, turn your advice into strict rules for computer use, such as “Don’t open emails or direct messages from strangers” and “Don’t download anything unless approved by a parent.”
Invest in antivirus and antispyware software. Always keep your virus protection and antispyware software running and up to date. If your computer has personal information (and almost all computers do), consider using passwords to log onto it.
Monitor you children’s computer usage. You can do this by keeping the computer in a common location in your house. Many children have received new tablets, computers, phones and other devices within the past few weeks for the holidays. Now is a great time to educate your children, as well as yourself, on internet and phone safety.
And speaking of safety: Please socially distance, wear your mask, wash your hands and get vaccinated as soon as possible.
To learn more or to find a pediatrician, visit mercy.net/laduenews.
Dr. Joseph Kahn is president of Mercy Kids (mercykids.org), an expansive network of pediatric care dedicated to meeting the needs of every child, every day.