Once you understand how the vast majority of identity thieves operate, it becomes clear how important education is. Identity thieves are not brilliant hackers, as a rule; instead, they’re the digital equivalent of somebody who finds the spare key under the doormat and robs your house while you’re out. Simple digital self-defense, like never clicking on a link from somebody you don’t trust, and not sharing personal information with people you don’t know in real life, will stymie the vast majority of wannabe cyber-crooks. So walk your kids through how to protect themselves online.
You should regularly talk to your kids about where they go online, what they’re doing, and who they’re doing it with. Beyond just taking an interest in their lives, often you can help them spot the early warning signs of someone trying to get at their personal information. They also might be worried about the behavior of somebody they’ve met online, but aren’t sure how to find an opening to talk to you about it. And when major stories about identity theft or data breaches pop up in the news, that’s a great opportunity to talk to your kids about what happened and how to stop it.
Finally, it makes sense, especially if your kids are dealing with somebody potentially abusing their trust, to just limit screen time altogether. Much like the number of miles driven in a car raises your risk of being in an accident, the amount of time you spend online exposes you to more risk of being scammed. So, have a screen time schedule, not just for the kids, but for the whole family. Modeling good behavior not only makes the rules easier for kids to follow, it’s also good for all of us to step away from crushing candies now and again.
Sitting down your kids and discussing internet safety is always a good idea, but even the smartest kid can be tricked if you’re not careful. To learn more about parental control apps, sign up for Screen Time.