Summer is a magical time of year. Schools go on summer break, letting kids get some much needed rest and time outside. The sun sets late enough to allow for family time in the backyard once parents get home from work. Adults take some of their vacation time from work to bring the family on a whirlwind adventure. Summer is a great time of year because of how care-free it allows us to be. While we should take advantage of the warm weather and longer days while they are here, it is also important to be careful (and not care-free) when it comes to certain things, namely: cybersecurity. Here are some tips to make staying cyber safe easy in the midst of this relaxing time of year.
Use strong passwords on your family devices. Many children know how to use smart phones and tablets well — even better than their parents do! As the kids of the 90s and early 2000s had the family desktop, kids of today have the family iPad. Be sure to have a password on these iPads and other devices used by the family in order to show children by example how to use passwords. Also use passwords for the various apps and websites accessed on the devices in order to further show how important password usage is.
Talk openly about cyber-safety. While the use of passwords is helpful in showing that they are used frequently and for many different sites and applications, it is important to explain in clear, open conversations why cybersecurity is important. Explain the risks of surfing online and the physical security risks of leaving an iPad out at camp. Though children do not have to know every nitty gritty detail of the darkness that can exist online, it is important that they are aware of cybersecurity risks and feel comfortable coming to you if they see something that seems suspicious or have questions about anything. Creating a transparent and open space for cyber safety discussions is key to creating the next generation of cyber aware humans.
Do not share photos while on vacation. While you (understandably) can’t wait to get your family vacation pictures out on social media to share with your family and friends, it is best to wait until you get back to share those memories with the world. When you post while on vacation, you can be vulnerable to unsafe WiFi connections which put the device at risk. Even more scarily, the post can make it known to malicious people that you are not at home and that your belongings are unprotected. It can also signal to criminally-minded individuals that you are in a certain location where they could find you and cause harm. It is best to wait until you’re home, safe and sound, to post your vacay memories.
Beware of cyberbullying. The Internet has made it possible for children to stay connected with their classmates even when class is not in session. Unfortunately, this means that your child could still be exposed to the mean kids they’d rather leave behind during the summer vacation. This is obviously a terrible thing for your child’s mental health, so preventing it or quickly resolving it are obvious steps you would like to take. Monitor your child’s actions online and confront the parents of a bully if your child is dealing with one. Do not allow your child to be a bully themselves by teaching them the importance of being kind online and the lasting impacts of social media cyberbullying.
Limit screen time! While this is a good approach always, limiting screen time in summer time can be especially good for your child’s mental health. After over a year of a virtual-only world caused by a pandemic, getting kids off the screens and out in the summer sun helps them to enjoy their youth and get some Vitamin D. It’s good for kids and parents and grandparents alike — many people are finally getting the family back together again! So put down the screens, get outside, and enjoy the summertime.
Image by pikisuperstar for Freepik.