Digital security tips to help stay safe online
The internet is a big place—one that’s growing every day. And in a world that is becoming increasingly connected through constantly evolving technology, families today are exposed to more threats than ever before. A 2022 BCG study found that “as many as 93% of children from ages 8 to 17 are on the internet, and remarkably, nearly three out of four respondents said they had experienced at least one cyber threat.”
While the internet can be a fantastic resource that provides kids opportunities to learn, socialize, and play, it is also a very public expressway. Knowing how to proactively protect our kids and teenagers from digital threats to make sure they’re staying safe online is as important now as it ever was.
What is cybersecurity?
In simplest terms, cybersecurity is the practice of protecting computer and technology systems, networks, programs, and data from digital attacks—also known as cyberattacks. Bad actors threaten privacy and security for their own gain—whether it’s to steal money, obtain sensitive information, or damage the image of others. Common types of cybersecurity risks include cyberbullying, inappropriate content, online predators, and phishing scams or other types of social engineering. In this article, we’ll talk about what each of these risks entails and provide tips on how you can equip your family to recognize and overcome them.
In 2022, 46 percent of U.S. teens reported having experienced cyberbullying. Direct harassment through hateful or insulting messages, fake social media accounts that claim to be the child who is being bullied, and even the unlawful sharing of degrading content are all forms of cyberbullying.
Experts like KidsHealth say that effects from enduring cyberbullying can include anxiety or severe depression—and have lingering impacts. While millennials and baby boomers grew up watching technology evolve, Generations Z and Alpha have only known a digital, connected world and are comfortable sharing personal and intimate details without a filter.
Teaching your kids the “What would grandma say?” rule can help them avoid sharing anything on social media “that they wouldn’t want their teachers, college admissions officers, future bosses, strangers—and yes, grandma—to see.” While parents can create an open channel of communication with their children, there are also other online safety tips and tools to help prevent cyberbullying.
For example, parents can encourage their kids to pick usernames that avoid giving away personal information and make sure privacy settings are enabled for social media or gaming apps. Proactively, you can use tools like parental controls with wifi scheduling (included with the eero app for managing your eero device) to select online and offline times for individual devices or for the whole house. Finally, app or website blocking is another option to help block platforms where cyberbullying happens and control your family’s online experience (included with premium digital security subscription eero Plus).
In short, creating healthy systems around online usage can help drive cybersafety and prevent cyberbullying.
Inappropriate or false content
As most parents know, there are a lot of things on the internet that children shouldn’t be exposed to. And while some sites like YouTube and Facebook have age-restrictive guidelines to help shield them from things they shouldn’t see, it’s difficult to protect kids from everything.
Cybersecurity experts recommend talking to your kids about the realities of the internet. Agree on a set of online safety rules, encourage critical thinking, and remind them that not everything they see online is real or true.
A preventative tool to help you safeguard your kids’ online browsing experience and act as a gatekeeper content is content filters: set restrictions for designated devices based on age range or content categories (included with eero Plus).
To summarize: Content filters, along with an agreed-upon set of online safety rules, can help reduce your children’s exposure to inappropriate or false content.
Predators may often lurk on social media or other games/applications meant for children, where they can use anonymity to talk to children directly and try to get them to share private information through seemingly innocent conversation.
One way to reduce the risk of your children sharing private information with an online stranger is teaching them what healthy interactions with other children their age look like and to avoid conversations that have anything to do with sensitive information, such as passwords, addresses, or personal data. Additionally, there are tools like advanced parental controls with content filters or website/app blocking (included with eero Plus) that you can use to help protect your family from websites you decide are harmful or inappropriate.
Utilizing advanced parental controls along with teaching your children about healthy online relationships can help shield them from online predators.
Phishing scams and social engineering
Phishing is a type of social engineering attack that’s used to gain access, convince someone to do something on someone else’s behalf, or to steal user data such as login credentials or credit card numbers. Bad actors disguise themselves as something or someone the victim trusts—like a bank or a family member—in order to trick adults or kids into opening an email or message that contains viruses or other malware or giving away sensitive information.
Phishing scams—and the social engineering that makes them so effective—are always a threat for young people who may not yet have learned the dangers of the internet or for adults who may overlook them. Promises of faster downloads, free in-game credits, or other rewards can lure children and even parents into clicking links that install ransomware (malicious software that locks files) or other malware. Be vigilant and avoid giving away any sensitive data or personal information.
Teach your children to be wary of content that looks like spam and to ask you if they’re unsure whether what they’re seeing is safe.
eero Plus offers advanced security with active threat protection to help keep your family safe from accidentally visiting known sites that could lead to phishing attacks and viruses. The digital security solution also offers Malwarebytes—an effective and easy-to-use antivirus software that stops cyberthreats, protecting your family’s personal devices and data in real time.
In the end, nobody’s above getting tricked. Preventative advanced security measures with active threat protection combined with antivirus solutions are your best bets against phishing attacks.
Ways to help keep your family safe on the internet
Even with everything that comes with having an online life, there are ways you and your family can protect your online activities. Clear and open communication with your family about what they like to do online, where they like to do it, and how to identify any risks that may come up is a solid plan to minimize internet danger.
Having these conversations makes it easier to set clear boundaries around what your kids should and shouldn’t be doing online. But even after you’ve controlled the controllables, internet dangers still exist—which is why it helps to ensure that you have the right digital security tools in place to proactively reduce cyberthreat risks. eero Plus includes these helpful tools:
- Advanced security with active threat protection helps prevent access to known sites that host malicious content, viruses, botnets, phishing schemes, and more.
- Password managers like 1Password offer unique, randomized passwords to reduce the chances of being hacked or affected by data breaches.
- A virtual private network (VPN) is a defense measure that creates a secure, encrypted connection between your device and a secure server, helping you and your family to browse the web privately and securely. VPNs help disguise the connected device, helping to shield your family’s identity from trackers and to protect your family’s data from hackers.
- Antivirus protection regularly scans your devices to detect and remove different kinds of malware such as viruses and ransomware. Malwarebytes is an antivirus software that scans, cleans, and protects your computers and mobile devices both on and off the eero network.
You don’t need to have a computer science degree or to be an IT expert to have cybersecurity risk protection and take ownership over your home network’s level of security. An all-in-one digital security solution like eero Plus can protect your growing online life and help keep your family’s personal information, connected devices, and network protected from digital threats. Features include advanced security, parental controls, network insights, Malwarebytes, 1Password, VPN powered by Guardian, and Internet Backup.
Read here to learn more about how you can help ensure a safer, happier, and healthier internet browsing experience for your family.