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Cornelius News

School’s out: Keep your kids cyber-safe this summer

June 7. With the last day of school upon us—the first day back is Aug. 26—your children’s time spent online will likely increase, perhaps with little or no supervision.

Here are some tips to help kids develop and maintain healthy online behaviors in the digital realm, courtesy of Dena J. King, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.

Elementary School-Age Children

• Discuss Internet Safety and Develop an Online Safety Plan for engaging in online activity. Establish clear guidelines, teach children to spot red flags, and reinforce open communication.

• Review Games, Apps, and Social Media Sites before they are downloaded, paying special attention to apps and sites that feature end-to-end encryption, direct messaging, video chats, file uploads, and user anonymity, which are frequently exploited by online
child predators. Make the profile private and teach children NOT to accept requests from people you don’t know in real life.

• Adjust Privacy Settings and Use Parental Controls for online games, apps, social medial sites, and electronic devices. Extra caution should be used in gaming platforms that can commonly expose children to cyberbullying, scams, predators, and inappropriate content.

• Supervise Young Children’s Use of the Internet and Gaming Platforms, including periodically checking their profiles and posts. Keep electronic devices in open and common areas and consider setting time limits for their use.

• Encourage Children to Tell a Parent, Guardian, or Other Trusted Adult if anyone asks them to engage in inappropriate behavior.

Middle School and High School-Age Children

• Establish the Importance of Online Privacy, by emphasizing the dangers of sharing personal information, photos, and videos online especially in public forums or with people they don’t know in real life. Explain that sharing with friends can also lead to concerns because of re-sharing, and help children understand that once images are posted online, they will remain permanently accessible on the internet.

• Teach Children About Body Safety and Boundaries, including the importance of saying ‘no’ to inappropriate requests in the physical and the virtual world. Remain vigilant against sextortion schemes that routinely target children using common social media sites, gaming sites, or video chat applications.

• Develop Healthy Skepticism by encouraging children to challenge the authenticity of what they see and read in online posts, messages, forums, and social media platforms. In particular, urge minors to be wary of online predators using fake accounts to pose as their peers and using fake photos or videos to lure children into sharing pictures and videos of themselves, which can easily lead to a sextortion scheme.

• Be Alert to Potential Signs of Abuse, including changes in children’s use of electronic devices, attempts to conceal online activity, withdrawn behavior, angry outbursts, anxiety, and depression.

• Proactively Engage in Discussions About the Pitfalls of Artificial Intelligence which can be misused by child predators and others to cyberbully children and produce fake content that looks real.

Adolescents and Young Adults

• Reinforce Strong Online Habits such as robust passwords, two-factor authentication, using a password manager, and applying routine system updates on devices and operation systems.

• Build Upon Privacy Lessons with an emphasis on how over-sharing personal information on social media platforms can lead to potential adverse impacts, to include online reputations and cyberbullying.

• Avoid Dangerous Distractions through the responsible use of devices while driving and remain extra vigilant against device and password theft.

• Be Vigilant Against Scams prevalent on ads that appear on shopping platforms and other social media sites that can lead to the fraudulent sale of defective or counterfeit items or to non-delivery of purchased items.

• Protect Against Phishing schemes in texts, emails, and social media posts where fraudsters can impersonate a trusted individual or organization and trick users into providing login credentials, sending money through Cash App, Zelle, or Venmo, or unwittingly installing malware on devices.

Immediately Report Suspected Online Enticement or Exploitation of a Child by alerting law enforcement or filing a report with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) at 1-800-843-5678 or report.cybertip.org.

For more info, visit https://www.justice.gov/criminal/criminal-ceos/keeping-children-safe-online.

 

 

 

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