With September fast approaching, children are preparing to pack away their suncream and head back to school.
This means youngsters will be back on their laptops and iPads and susceptible to identity theft and malicious viruses.
From creating a fake Facebook name to avoiding email freebies, FEMAIL has compiled the top tips and tricks to help children stay safe online.
More than one million people in the country were victims to online crime last year, a study in Singapore found.
Online security company Symantec discovered that 20 per cent of these people said it was their children who had downloaded a virus or malicious software to the parents¹ computer.
Another danger are cyberthieves, who see children as easy targets.
Criminals, for example, can combine a child¹s social security number with a fake date of birth and address to open bank accounts, get credit cards or loans.
As youngsters grow, they learn to use the internet and sharing information on social media safely.
However, the time before this learning curve is the most dangerous – and this is when parents and educators should step in.
Here are some simple tricks for parents to teach their children about online privacy and security.
1. Lay out ground rules
Whether your little darling is a child or teenager, it’s good to lay down a few basic guidelines. For example, you can start by telling that anything shared once on the internet stays there forever and that nothing is 100 per cent private.
2. Be careful with personal information
First tell your child what ‘personal information’ means.
Draw up a list for them and tell them clearly that they should always check with you before sharing those details together with any website or person on the Internet.
3. Password protection and usage
Children at a young age start creating their own email accounts.
Although such email websites alert users to choose strong passwords, advise your son or daughter on what kind of passwords to choose.
Tell them that the password could be a mix of characters and special symbols and ask them never to share their passwords with anyone, perhaps even with you.
Diceware is an easy to use password methodology, where you roll a six-sided die five times and use the results to pick five random words from the list.
4. Curb social media usage
Children spend a lot of time on social media, so it¹s important to let them know what is okay to share and what isn¹t.
Discuss what they should not share on social media. If you want to take an extra step in securing your child¹s online privacy, create fake social media names for them and a fake school or city name.
5. Privacy over Whatsapp
Sending messages with apps such as Whatsapp is something every teenager does, but they don¹t always know that their chats are not 100 per cent private.
Therefore, you should advise them never to share personal or bank details or other sensitive information like passwords via messages.
6. Share news of personal hacks with them
If your child is old enough to understand this, share the latest news about identity thefts or personal hacks with them to make them aware of the dangers they face while using the Internet.
7. Explain the dangers of free public Wi-Fi
Kids love free Wi-Fi who doesn¹t. Cafes and shops might have unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Explain to your kids to be especially cautious when connecting to these networks as they can easily be monitored.
One of the best ways to safely use public Wi-Fi is by installing a VPN (see below). You can pre-install a VPN on a mobile device and teach kids to turn it on whenever using public Wi-Fi.
8. Install a VPN (virtual private network)
For ultimate protection install a VPN service on the device they use to encrypt their online communication data.
VPN creates a connection tunnel that automatically encrypts all the data coming in and out of your device, and effectively protects anyone using the Internet.
NordVPN is one of the safest and most user-friendly VPNs on the market.
All you have to do is press the ON button and you are connected. NordVPN works on up to six devices, and now also has Mac and Android apps.
9. Warn them of game scams
Agree to install games together with your children. Research to see if the game and the provider are reputable.
Make sure you download the games only from a reputable source after reading some reviews.
Too often fake games are uploaded online, which are made to look colourful and exciting on websites, prompting kids to install them for free, when in fact it¹s malware that could infect your device.
10. Talking to strangers on chat rooms
New chat rooms, forums uniting different interest groups are popping up every day.
Children are eager to discuss their interests with peers but it is important to speak to them about sharing their private information. Under no circumstances should they share any pictures, addresses or passwords.
11. Being wary of email freebies
All that sparkles is not gold. If your kids receive an email about a great offer like a free mobile phone or concert tickets it¹s a trick designed to get one to give up personal information. Again, advise your kids to always show you such emails and never respond to them.
Youngsters are more tech-savvy than most of their parents when they were that age but at the same time, they will be exposed to online identity thefts, hackings and snooping if they are not taught basic internet safety rules from an early age.