2018 Guide to Keeping Your Kids Secure Online

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Considering the internet is woven into nearly facet of our daily lives, it should come as no surprise that children are discovering and learning how to use mobile devices, social media, and other online tools at an early age and in greater numbers. It’s critical for parents to understand how often their kids are online, as well as the risks they will encounter, to protect them from potential dangers.


To learn more, check out the infographic below created by Maryville University.


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Children’s Access to the Internet

Age Range of Children Who Access the Internet at Home

The age at which children have at-home internet access practically redefines the concept of “early adapters.” While the fact that 76.5% of teens between 15 and 17 can surf the web at home isn’t too surprising, the fact that 34% of children ages 3 to 5 have internet access at home may raise an eyebrow.

When Do Children Commonly Begin Their Own Mobile Service Plans?

Sixteen percent of kids become connected to their own mobile service plan at 8 years old. This percentage slightly dips in the 9-year-old demographic, as 15% of kids that age get their initial plan. Twenty-two percent of kids have to wait until they’re 10 before getting their first mobile plan, and 15% don’t receive their first plans until they reach 11.

How Do Children Use Their Smartphones?

Eighty-one percent of children ages 3 to 17 use their phones for text messaging. Fifty-nine percent utilize their phones for downloading and using apps. Fifty-three percent of kids in this age range access mobile internet and play pre-installed games, while 46% use their phone to do live video calling.


Protecting Children’s Info: Responsible Online Security


The Danger of Child Identity Theft

The Federal Trade Commission states a child’s Social Security number can be used by thieves to apply for benefits, credit accounts, loans, or housing. It’s a rampant problem. According to a 2011 report by Carnegie Mellon University’s CyLab, child ID theft was 51 times higher than the adult rate. A 2012 survey conducted by the Identity Theft Assistance Center and the Javelin Strategy & Research demonstrated that 1 in 40 families had at least one child whose identity was compromised.

Privacy Risks Parents Should Know About

It’s important that parents are cognizant of the risks involving peer-to-peer file sharing – that is the sharing of files, music, games, or videos via file-sharing apps. This activity can increase the chances of malicious code installation on your child’s computer. It can also make a system more susceptible to hacking, expose sensitive and private information, and even open the door to federal prosecution.

Phishing is another issue that should be on a parent’s radar. This action uses fake texts, emails, and pop-up messages that coerce people to share personal or financial information.

Understanding the Laws Protecting Families

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) gives parents rights regarding their children’s education records. Additionally the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) limits the collection of personal data by website operators and online services focused on children under 13.

Even with these laws in place, there are several security tips that parents should follow. Some of these are common sense tactics, such as never sharing your child’s Social Security number with untrustworthy parties. Others are a little more proactive, like checking to see if there is a credit report in your child’s name when they turn 16. Parents should also be on the lookout for serious red flags, such as receiving IRS notices or credit collector calls in your child’s name.


Protecting Our Kids Online

Predatory Dangers Kids Face Online

The internet can be a treacherous place for children. Studies show 33.8% of kids 12 to 17 years old have been cyberbullying victims. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children states that 1 in 7 children have been sexually solicited online. Other reports indicate that the average age that kids get initially exposed to internet pornography is 11. Finally, 43% of teens regret having posted personal info online, citing damaged reputations and embarrassment.

Taking an Active Role in Protecting Your Children

While the internet can be scary, parents can take several proactive steps to protect their kids from the web’s dangers. Communication about the dangers of the net and the creation of a supportive, open, and positive environment can go a long way to help safeguard your children. Several proactive measures can also help greatly, such as blocking inappropriate materials, monitoring their email and social media accounts, and establishing strict online rules regarding information sharing, using good judgment when sharing multimedia, and taking a hard-line stand against bullying.

With all the potential dangers children face online, parents must take preventive measures to keep their kids safe. This requires taking an active role in educating themselves and their families and setting examples for their kids to follow.