Protecting your child’s private information online

The Internet has transformed the way we educate our children. Students can conduct research, participate in virtual classrooms, and connect with peers around the world. Unfortunately, being connected to the world-wide-web poses risks, especially when it comes to our children’s safety. From cyberbullying and predators to even having their identity and personal information stolen, children and teens are vulnerable. As parents and educators, it is essential to educate our children about cyber safety.

Protecting your child’s personal information

Cybercriminals treat social media sites like personal hunting grounds in a quest to steal the personal information of users, including children and teens. The fact that social media allows users to be relatively “anonymous” poses a big risk since you never know who is on the other end. An adult could be posing a teenager in order to gain the trust of other young people. The goals of these criminals are to obtain personal information they can exploit, either selling the information to a third party or using it to make purchases online. They will even steal another person’s identity in order to apply for loans, obtain credit cards, and other illegal activities.

How to educate and protect your child’s personal information

It is important to talk to your children about safe practices when it comes to online behavior.

Do not click on direct messages on social media that have unusual typos, incorrect words, or strange punctuation.

Never give out personal information such as passwords, social security numbers, physical addresses, credit card numbers or PIN, even if the message seems to come from a legitimate website or social media site. (NOTE: Social media and websites will never message or email you asking for personal information. If in doubt, call directly or send a separate email to inquire about the matter).

If your child gets a message claiming that his/her account will be locked or deleted unless certain actions are taken (like paying a fee or clicking a link to reset an account), it is most likely a scam.

“Don’t click links that are mismatched from their descriptions. Hover over the link with your cursor and check the status bar. Make sure the status bar address matches the intended destination. Both addresses should match for any type of link, whether in direct messages, emails or browsers,” says StaySafeOnline.org.

The same principals apply to email and attachments. Phishing emails will often include a link or attachment that is designed to either install malware on computers/smart devices or steal information such as credit card numbers, passwords and personal identification numbers like SSN. Cybercriminals might also access personal email address books so they can send out SPAM in your name.

Protecting Information on Video Streaming Sites

YouTube is one of the most popular websites in the world, giving young people the ability to watch videos on nearly any subject. “Every day YouTube users watch over 1 billion hours of videos. All of this traffic draws the attention of scammers and cyber thieves looking to hack the system for profit,” according to StaySafeOnline.org.

The videos themselves are generally safe, but cybercriminals will often add links in the comment section, which are basically phishing scams. If your child clicks one it can install a virus or other malware on a computer/smart device.

Protecting your child in the cyber age is no easy task. You must constantly monitor and be vigilant about what your son or daughter is doing online, even if they complain about it. If you need advice or have questions about online safety, American Heritage School can provide information and tips.

American Heritage Schools is a leader in private education, academic excellence, and innovation. With two 40 acre campuses, one in Broward County and the other in Palm Beach County, Florida, we serve 4,600 students grades Pre-K 3 through 12. American Heritage Schools was recently named the #1 Private School for academic success with the highest number of National Merit Scholars of all private schools in the nation. For over 55 years, our mission of knowledge, integrity, and compassion through developing the full potential of each child to be an active, intelligent, creative, and contributing member of society. Contact an admissions director for more information or sign up for a campus tour.