Steps you can take to keep personal info secure.
There’s no safety lane on the information superhighway — which can be a problem, since kids spend a significant amount of time online.
In 2012 alone, there were 9,084 incidents of cybercrime reported by Canadian police services, according to Statistics Canada. Fraud was the most commonly reported crime, accounting for 54 per cent.
It’s essential to educate young children, adolescents and teens about being safe online, as they may be more trusting, and more easily tricked into giving up personal or financial information. Here are some important tips to keep their personal information (and yours!) secure:
- Start the conversation: Safekids.com provides contracts for kids, teens and parents to sign as a way to commit to safe online practices — and each contract can be customized to suit your family’s specific needs. For example, you may want to assign time restrictions for when your kids can go online, or limit the exact URLs they can visit. Looking for something interactive and educational? Have your pre-teens take Safekids.com’s online safety quiz.
- Educate your kids on what not to share: Make sure your children understand they should never share their home address, Social Insurance Number, password, or account number in a chat, email or other online communication. Also, remind them to never click links in emails or messages that ask for personal information, as legitimate businesses won’t ask for that over an insecure channel. And teach your children good safety precautions in chat rooms, where they may innocently reveal private information that could lead to fraud.
- Show kids how to identify “iffy” items: Kids should avoid interacting with pop-up ads, websites requesting personal information, and downloads from people or sites they don’t know. Teach your kids to recognize legitimate sites: For example, they must see the letters “https” in the URL or a picture of a lock on a website that asks for personal information.
Media Smarts encourages parents to be a guide for children, and to bookmark safe and relevant sites. As for searching for information online, try kid-friendly resources such as factmonster.com and kidsclick.org.
- Pick a safe online identity: Take some time to brainstorm a username and password together to ensure your child has a login that doesn’t contain any identifying information and isn’t simple enough for a hacker to guess.
The Door that’s not Locked®*, run by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection®*, recommends creating a password that includes a mix of numbers, characters and letters (both upper and lowercase), and reminding your child to never share their password with anyone — even their close friends.
Related: 8 actions to avoid identity theft
- Put safety tools in place: Most browsers offer safe-searching features to help you block websites with questionable content. In addition, consider adding parental control software, which lets you filter website categories, block personal information from being shared, and schedule times children can browse the Internet.
Cellphones can also be protected, so consider talking to your service provider. For example, some providers may offer add-ons that limit the number of texts users can send and the overall volume of web browsing — plus filters for inappropriate content and unknown call blocking.
Related: 6 tips to keep your teen’s cellphone bill under control
- Amp up your protection level: Accidentally downloading viruses and spyware (which track online activity and can access information) can harm your computer and help thieves carry out cybercrimes. Your kids may not recognize a pop-up for spyware, and accidentally download it, so make sure your computer is secure. Follow these three tips from the RCMP: Activate your firewall, use anti-virus/malware software, and block spyware attacks by installing and updating anti-spyware software.
Tip: BMO customers can access a free download of IBM®# Trusteer Rapport®# to help protect against online fraud and identity theft.
- Spread the word: Make sure any family members, such as grandparents, babysitters or other caregivers, know your Internet safety rules — including when they should be monitoring your child’s online time.
- Report crimes: If you think you or your child has experienced online identity theft or any other Internet safety issues, report it. The RCMP recommends you contact your local police, your bank and credit card companies, the two national credit bureaus, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Also, NeedHelpNow.ca supports kids ages 13 to 17 who have been affected by cyberbullying. They can help remove inappropriate pictures of videos online, provide emotional support, and offer tips for reporting criminal offences.
You can also find tips for staying safe online at Get Cyber Safe, a national public awareness campaign from the Government of Canada.
Looking for more resources? Wednesday, April 20, 2016 is BMO’s Talk With Our Kids About Money Day in partnership with CFEE. To celebrate, we’re sharing fun, easy, and engaging activities at www.talkwithourkidsaboutmoney.com
®*Registered trademark of the Canadian Centre for Child Protection Inc.
®# Trusteer and Trusteer Rapport are trademarks or registered trademarks of Trusteer, an IBM Company. “IBM” is a registered trademark of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States and other countries