Basic online safety for kids

Theresa M. Payton, National Cyber Security Expert, shares three simple rules for parents on how they can help their kids be safe online
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Basic online safety for kids

Here's the great thing about online and giving your kids some rule of the road. I mean, we didn't grow up with the internet, most of us at home, so we're trying to think these rules that we were taught, how do I use them for the internet? And guess what? The old-school rules, they still apply. So that 'don't talk to strangers' rule, it applies online. But what parents have to realize is, it doesn't mean the same thing. I'll give you an example. When I teach a new group of kids in internet safety class, they'll all raise their hand and say, "I'm not allowed to talk to strangers." I'll say, "How about online?" "I'm not allowed to talk to strangers, I don't do it online." And I'll walk through a simple exercise with them and I'll say, "Well, how about if I'm friends with somebody on Facebook, you've met me. If my friend on Facebook friends you will you accept it even if you've never met them?" And they say, "Sure, because I know you and I trust your judgment." And I say, "Kids, that person's a stranger." And they say, "Well, you know them. They're not a stranger." And I say, "Well, even better, what if I've actually never met them either? A friend of mine was friends with them and they sent me a friend request." And we play the example out in class, and the kids suddenly realize, I'm talking to strangers online. But it gets worse, because I'll say, "Hey kids, when you go home tonight, unfriend those people you've never met." And they say, "I'm not sure about that. Couldn't that be cyber-bullying because I'm unfriending somebody?" And I go, "No, you can't cyber-bully somebody you don't know. You're just unfriending them, not making fun of them, not calling them names." So parents need to understand that that old-school rule still applies, but it means something different to kids today. So you need to walk through with them what not talking to strangers really means. The second piece is, I always say, the grand-mom rule. So if you wouldn't want your grand-mom to see you doing something, don't do it. Same thing online. If grand-mom would be appalled to see that video, that picture, that mean thing you're getting ready to say, don't do it. And then the last old-school rule that still applies is don't take candy from strangers. On the internet, there's constant pop-ups asking for your name, asking for information, promising you could win an iPad, promising you're gonna be in some contest; it all sounds great. But these are strangers trying to trick you out of information by offering you candy. So that rule still applies online. Three easy rules to explain. Make sure you also give scenarios with those rules to your kids, and they'll get it; they'll follow it.

Theresa M. Payton, National Cyber Security Expert, shares three simple rules for parents on how they can help their kids be safe online


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Theresa M. Payton

National Cyber Security Expert

Theresa Payton is a well-known and highly respected national authority on cybersecurity, e-crime and fraud mitigation, and technology implementation. She has over twenty years of advanced business and security technology expertise and leadership at the highest levels of government and in the financial services industry, including being the first woman to serve as Chief Information Officer at the White House.  She is a wife and mother to three fabulous and fun kids.  She is also the co-author of the newly released book Protecting Your Internet Identity: Are You Naked Online? and the founder of the S.A.F.E. Kids initiative - a classroom-based, digital safety program.

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