Cyber Surfing and Child Safety
Cyber threats and security breaches are not going away any time soon, unfortunately. In fact, many of us are looking at credit monitoring for a looong time and are taking online security practices more seriously. With the surfeit of digital entertainment options available today, it’s time to get kids in the habit of practicing cyber safety as well.
Consider: Instead of watching TV during their daily screen time allotment, is your third-grader watching YouTube videos of Minecraft on a tablet or laptop? Does your middle school (or younger) student have a Facebook account or post selfies on Instagram?
“Just as we teach our children to lock the front door for their physical safety, we have to teach them the online equivalents of those things in the digital age, like creating a strong password,” said Unit Chief Jonathan Cox of the FBI’s Office of Public Affairs in an announcement about the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge.
Since 2012, the FBI has conducted the Safe Online Surfing (SOS) Internet Challenge as a national competition. At the end of the month, the top-scoring schools receive a FBI-SOS award and may receive a visit from their local FBI field office. Updated for the 2017 school year, the FBI’s Safe Online Surfing website covers topics such as cyberbullying, passwords, malware, social media, and more for students in third through eighth grades.
Teachers register by visiting the Teacher Sign-Up page, clicking the Teachers link, and downloading the step-by-step guide. It’s not a comprehensive resource but rather a doorway to an ongoing dialogue about online safety practices. Here are a few questions for eighth grade.
Change the __________ of your search engine or web browser to block inappropriate content. [URL or settings]
You can change the settings of your search engine or web browser to block information not meant for young people. Ask a trusted adult if you need help adjusting the settings.
If you come across something that upsets you during a web search, you should ________. [Ignore it and run a new search/talk to an adult]
The web has a lot of information and pictures not meant for young people. Talk to a parent or other trusted adult if you come across something online that scares or bothers you.
A website with _______ in the address bar is considered secure. [https or http]
The “s” in “https” in the address bar stands for “secure” and helps protect a website from hackers. You should only log into or buy things from websites that use "https" in the URL.
Google also has a game called Interland, with tools and resources to teach kids to be “Internet awesome.” The five core concepts include:
Be Internet Smart: Share with Care
Be Internet Alert: Don’t Fall for Fake
Be Internet Strong: Secure Your Secrets
Be Internet Kind: It’s Cool to Be Kind
Be Internet Brave: When in Doubt, Talk It Out
And speaking of online security practices, are any of your passwords still “123456” or “password”? Go. Change. Them. Now.