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January 9, 2014

Cyber Security

MARLBOROUGH, MA - As a parent, one of your top priorities is the safety of your children. You teach your child not to talk to strangers and to look both ways when crossing the road, but how often do you talk to your child about cyber security?

Like the physical world around us, the digital world poses various dangers if certain precautions are not taken. BBB, in coordination with the National Cyber Security Alliance, recommends that before you allow your child free, unsupervised access to the Internet, make sure you have followed these steps to teach your child what it means to be a responsible digital citizen.

Remain engaged and interested with your child’s use of the Internet. Visit your favorite websites together and show interest in their Internet activity. Use these moments to teach them how to safely and appropriately use the Internet. Over time they will build competence in safe and secure online behavior and good decision making.

Know the protection features of the websites and software your child uses, such as pop-up blockers. Attempt to teach your child about what is an appropriate website and how much time per day should be spent online, instead of using strict parental settings to control their online behavior. Remember, your home is not the only place they can access the Internet.

Review your child’s privacy settings on social media sites, explain what each setting means and decide together what is a good amount of privacy protection.

Explain the public nature of the Internet and its risks as well as benefits. Be sure they know that any digital info they share (emails, photos, videos, etc.) can easily be copied and pasted elsewhere, making it impossible to take back. Warn that private information should never be shared electronically.

Once you have taught your child about the dangers of the Internet (scams, viruses, cyber-bullying, false identities etc.), empower your child to make responsible online decisions, in the same way you trust them to make good decisions in the real world. Constantly monitoring their online activity only goes so far. In order to really protect your child from the dangers of the Internet, the best thing you can do is teach them cyber security, responsibility and awareness.

For more information on how to protect yourself, your family and your devices, visit the National Cyber Security Alliance’s website at staysafeonline.org.

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