Nowadays, the Internet is an essential tool for every child, especially with the novel coronavirus restricting outdoor interests. Kids in the modern world go online to play video games, socialize with friends, study, learn, and watch videos. But sadly, some bad actors can make these digital activities unsafe for vulnerable people like children. Fortunately, a few steps can help make the online space more secure and private for your kid:

#1 Use Security Software

To combat the attack vectors that hackers utilize, you need to arm your children’s devices and computers with the right tools. Here are some quick tips:

  • Update: Regularly update your antivirus software and download the newest virus signatures. Likewise, update the firmware and operating system on all devices, where possible. 
  • Upgrade: While it’s tempting to give your kid an obsolete smartphone to save costs, the device may have unpatched security flaws that bad actors will utilize. Consider upgrading their smartphone to the newest version for top security. 
  • Download: The baked-in antivirus software in Windows, Android, macOS, and iOS is sufficient at stopping old threats like viruses, but for advanced malware, you should search for good anti-malware software that stops all malicious programs.
  • Scan: Run your computer’s virus scan weekly to remove viruses. And use a specialized scanner for more clever malicious programs, like spyware, stalkerware, and Trojans. For example, you can check for Trojan horse attacks on your kids’ computers with the appropriate software. 
  • Parental controls: For younger children, try your computer’s parental controls to shield their email, webcams, microphones, and browsing activity.  

#2 Educate 

Just like in real life, communicating with strangers on the Internet can lead to problems. Bad actors use various ways to trick kids into sharing their sensitive data like pictures, addresses, usernames and passwords in cyberspace or attack them with pranks or malware. 

  • Catfishing:  Predators make fake social media accounts with stolen pictures and other data to trick vulnerable people into befriending them. 
  • Phishing: Hackers can also send malicious links or dangerous attachments in fraudulent emails and texts to kids. 
  • Doxing: Trolls and cyberbullies can publish a kid’s name, address, pictures, or other sensitive information on the Internet to harass them.
  • Swatting: Pranksters may send heavily armed law enforcement officers to a kid’s home with a fake emergency call to scare them, resulting in death. 

Investing in a good VPN can hide your IP address to prevent doxers and swatters from uncovering your home address. Though, keep in mind, free VPNs aren’t a suitable option as they carry security flaws and malware infections. Alongside a VPN, use a firewall to strengthen your network. 

In addition, children should learn to guard their security on social media by using privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram. Limiting audiences to trusted friends is the first step towards social media security. Learning not to share potentially sensitive information is the second.   

While scammers, trolls, and hackers can make the Internet hazardous for younger users, a combination of security protocols and software can enhance their safety, and help them go online stress-free.