10 Ways to Stay Safe Online
You’re part of the first generation of kids who didn’t know a time without smartphones and social media. That’s great when it comes to being comfortable with the technology, but it can cause you to let down your guard. Here are 10 ways to stay safe online. —By Rebecca Cohen
Don’t give out personal information about yourself or your family members. The more you share online, the more you open yourself up to phishing . Never share data such as birthdays and addresses. Also, if you were born in the United States, you were assigned a Social Security number. That nine-digit number sets you apart from everyone else in the country: Don’t share it. When possible, avoid apps that require personal information. Unless you read every word of the fine print, you can’t be sure how the info will be used.
“Share with care,” says Ari Lazarus, a consumer-education specialist at the Federal Trade Commission. Once you post something online, it’s there forever. Even if you think you’ve deleted something, coded copies of what you posted are preserved. (And people who are out to scam you know how to find them.) Take a moment to consider every post before hitting send, because you can never take it back.
Create strong passwords that are hard for others to guess. Don’t include things like your name, your birthday, or the name of your school. People who know you can guess a password that’s based on these elements. Instead, create passwords using a complex combination of numbers, special characters, and capital and lowercase letters. Ask a parent to help you keep track so you don’t forget.
Lock all your devices. Do you have a smartphone? It should be locked. So should all of your tablets and computers. It may seem like a hassle to have to enter a password each time you want to use a device. But locking your items is the best way to keep people from accessing the personal information you keep on them.
Turn off the Wi-Fi auto-connect feature on all your devices. That way, you can make your own decisions about which networks to use. Auto-connecting to unfamiliar networks can leave you exposed to hackers. Turning off the auto-connect feature can be done in Settings on most devices.
Don’t share your passwords with anyone except your parents. Even if your BFF promises not to share a password with anyone else, keep the password to yourself. Also, talk to your parents about whether your family should use a password manager. This is a program thats help you keep track of all your logins easily. Some programs make it so that you need to remember only one.
Don’t say yes to sharing your location without talking to your parents first. Many apps and websites will ask to use your location. They may offer to give you recommendations based on where you are. Unfortunately, this also gives people you don’t know access to your location—which is not often a good idea. Before you and your parents decide to say yes to sharing your location, make sure it’s for an app or website that you really trust and that the benefits outweigh the risks.
Click here for the Grade 5-6 Teacher’s Guide.
Extra! Click here to read a related article from TIME for Kids.