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Protect your kids online by taking these steps

Everyone is spending more time online than ever. This was the case before the pandemic, where families would sit at the dinner table all looking at their phones, but shelter at home orders have made it harder than ever to get away from your device.

This makes it an excellent time to remind parents that they should be vigilant about monitoring their children’s online habits to ensure that it is a safe, healthy and positive experience for everyone involved.

It starts with a frank conversation about sharing information online, particularly if someone asks for bank account numbers, social security numbers or credit card information. Also, talk to them about privacy and exposure, like posting pictures of themselves or other family members.

Five cardinal rules

These and other tips go a long way towards protecting the family from online predators and other temptations:

  1. Choose a better password: Pick stronger passwords with letters, numbers and symbols. And DON’T use the same password for all your accounts. Use a password manager or keep a list under lock and key.
  2. Update your software: This can be a pain, particularly for those with older computers, but updates often address security fixes.
  3. Utilize the recovery phone number option: Getting locked out of your account is frustrating. This will be helpful if the account becomes compromised and/or you are locked out.
  4. Check the parental controls: These may have been set up but inadvertently taken off. If nothing else, they may need to be updated to fit the age of the young users.
  5. Talk about signs of danger: This includes opening pop-up ads, looking at inappropriate videos that get through filters, no-obligation offers, and online friends’ behavior.

Parents lead through example

The best way to teach your children these lessons is to set a positive example. Both parents should be on the same (web) page on this, regardless of whether the family lives together under one roof or if there is shared custody after a divorce.

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