For the last 10 years, Homeland Security in partnership with other government agencies has declared October National CyberSecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM). During this month, nonprofits, business, government and individuals join together to share how people can protect their devices and information in the digital world.
For kids and teens, the best security is teaching them to recognize potential trouble. Some of the ways, cybercriminals trick people appeal to both teens and kids. They should be cautious when clicking on links in messages, searching popular celebrities or downloading free stuff. These popular activities could lead to a nasty virus if they are not careful.
Clicking on Links in Messages
This is a direct message I received from Twitter. On Facebook, users may receive a similar message about being tagged in a Facebook post. Clicking these type of links may land a person on a site prompting them to download a feature to see the picture. Unfortunately, downloading this feature may allow thieves to access everything stored in the browser, including accounts with saved passwords.
I will admit that when our eldest got a phone we did not think too deeply about it. She was babysitting and participating in more after school activities and we wanted her to be able to contact us. We knew she would use it to text her friends, but we didn’t think that was a big deal. Now a few years a later, we have another child entering middle school and this time around we are not as cavalier about getting her a phone.
There are days I love the phone and days I wonder why she has it. I love that she can call if she needs a ride or has a problem and I can reach her if there is a change.I am more comfortable letting her venture out knowing she has a phone. All of this connection can also lead to disconnection. She is on her phone a lot. Some days, I swear she never looks up and it is a constant battle to limit time. We also struggle with how much to monitor her use. It is hard to guide her if we don’t know what she is doing on her phone. We want to make sure she is using her phone responsibly but we don’t want to read every text.
Before buying a phone, parents and kids should discuss time and use. Ultimately, whether a kid is ready for a phone depends a lot on them and you. Some questions to think about are:
How responsible are they with their current devices?
How well are they doing with time management?
Are they managing friendships well in the real world?
Are you ready as a parent to manage and guide their use?
If you decide it is time for a phone, remember a phone and internet can be separated and introduced at different ages. Your 6th grader may need a phone to get picked up at school. It doesn’t mean they need internet access. Contrary to what they may tell you, not everyone has a smartphone.
Kids spend a lot of time online. They go online to find answers for homework, coordinate school projects, share events, play games and watch videos. While online, they may feel like they are sharing with just family and friends but companies are also listening.
Websites and advertising networks use tracking tools to record what kids and adults do online. The Wall Street Journal found that advertisers collect this information to build consumer profiles. These profiles do not include real names but include almost everything else: age, tastes, hobbies, shopping habits, race, interests and location. Information that kids post and even the information they don’t post such as where they click, what they like, what they’re searching for – is valuable data to organizations who want to sell them something.
The Pew Center found 81% of parents are concerned about how much information advertisers collect about their kids. Kids are especially vulnerable since most do not realize advertisers are tracking them or that their information is used to send them the perfect ad. These ads are not simple banners displayed across the screen. Companies are developing ads that are interactive and utilize kids’ personal information in the ad itself.
To discover how information is generated and used, let’s look at the day of a typical teen: what she does online, how companies track her activities and how they use this information to market to her.