Your home is now much more than a place to hang your hat: it is now a schoolhouse, home office, and entertainment center.
Your kiddos spend hours a day on a computer attending online school and playing games with their friends, and you are doing your best to keep up with the bills and shop for needed household supplies from various websites.
While you are grateful for the technology that has allowed your children to continue their education and stay busy during a global pandemic and for you to complete various tasks, you admit you are a bit concerned about everyone’s safety. You know that kids can be targets of online predators, and you also worry that someone may end up accessing your accounts.
Fortunately, the following tips can help ensure that you and your kids are protected online when using the computers for school, entertainment, and financial transactions.
1 For the Kids: Supervise & Review Rules
To help your children stay safe while they are online, start by discussing internet safety and set up an online safety plan with them. Even if you have gone over this topic before, it will help establish rules and teach your kiddos how to spot suspicious e-mails and people. As the United States Department of Justice notes, if you can, keep the computers in open areas of the house and supervise young kids’ use of the internet, including occasionally checking their posts and profiles.
Make it a household rule that if your tween or teen wants to download a game, app, or a social media site, that you review it first — pay extra close attention to anything that allows direct messaging or user anonymity, which can be ways for online predators to communicate with children. Remind your kids never to share personal information or photos, and assure them that if something happens online, that makes them feel uncomfortable. They should let you or another trusted adult know right away.
2 For You: Up Your Online Security
While banks do use security measures like 128-bit or 256-bit data encryption to keep your personal financial information as safe as possible, it is essential for you also to be proactive about securing your various accounts. The last thing you want is for someone to hack into your bank or favorite online retailer account, steal your info and open credit cards in your name.
As Forbes notes, the first place to start is by using strong and unique passwords. Common mistakes include choosing a password that is too short, contains personal info like your name or the name of your family dog, or using the same password for multiple sites. Instead, mix upper and lowercase letters, use a phrase rather than a word, don’t store the password on any website — even those you visit all the time — and include plenty of numbers and special characters. Also, if your bank, credit card company and fave online retailers offer two-factor authentication, use it. This will mean you need to enter your login name and password and a second security check like a unique code texted to you by your bank before you can proceed.
Finally, resist the urge to shop or bank while using public Wi-Fi. This can make you vulnerable to your data being transmitted over unencrypted networks and for hackers to electronically “eavesdrop” on what you are doing.
3 For Everyone: Invest in an Identity Theft Plan
A final step in your household internet safety plan is to invest in an identity theft program that will monitor everyone’s accounts online. For instance, LifeLock offers monitoring plans to watch for any suspicious activities and send you immediate alerts if something is amiss. This way, if your teen ends up downloading a fake game through a phishing e-mail and your credit card is exposed, you will learn about it right away and can take steps to cancel it. And if
someone gets a hold of your good name and personal data and applies for a credit card; you will also get an alert.
This program can give you peace of mind that your personal information is secure, mainly because your entire family is on the computer so much.
4 Technology Can Be Useful, Convenient and Secure
Computers have been such a great way to learn, play and get tasks done during the pandemic. By upping your online security plan for everyone in the home, you can be more confident that your kids can do their work and games, and you can pay your bills and order supplies safely and securely.