Grade School Cyber Security Kit: Online Safety 101
The Internet often seems like a place of endless wonders. It’s where you learn, talk, shop, and play. Still, the Internet is just like anything else in life- there are important rules that everyone should follow in order to make sure they stay safe online.
Follow the Internet rules at school and at home.
How much screen time is too much?
It’s really easy to get caught up visiting fun websites and playing awesome games, but there’s also a whole big world to explore away from the screen! Know when it’s time to put down the mouse and go outside and play. Come to an agreement with your parents about how much time you’ll spend staring at the screen each day.
Only visit sites that are approved by parents, teachers and family members.
Talk to the adults you trust about some of the activities you want to do on the Internet. They can help you find the right websites and steer you clear of the bad. If you are interested in joining a social media website, ask your parents to help you find the right ones for kids your age. Social media sites specifically for children include Help Your Hero, and YourSphere.
Find out your school’s rules about bringing your own devices to class.
Some schools may allow tablets, laptops and smartphones in class since they’re great learning tools. But they can also be distracting for you and other students if you don’t follow the rules about them. Learn the rules before bringing a phone or computer into the classroom.
Protect your laptop and devices.
Always be careful when you have food and drinks around your device; damage can happen if you spill a drink on a laptop or drop your tablet on a hard surface. Treat your gadgets with care - they’re lots of fun, but can break easily if not taken care of properly.
Do not give personal information to strangers online.
It’s very easy for someone to hide behind the computer screen and pretend they’re someone else. You may think you are talking to a kid your age, but it could be someone much older behind that screen instead. If someone that you have only talked with online asks to meet you, be sure to tell an adult immediately.
What is personal information?
Personal information is stuff about you such as your full name, city or address, telephone number, birthday, your parent’s name, what school you go to and even photos. If someone you don’t know asks you for any of these things, you should tell a trusted adult right away.
Make safe online accounts.
Sometimes when you join a new website, you need to create a username with a safe password that protects your personal information. Never use your full name as the username. A safe password is a password that has no words that can be found in a dictionary, and should contain a mix of numbers (1,2,3…), letters (A,B,C…) and special characters(!,$,*…).
Need help coming up with a password? Try our handy tool to help you make a safe and secure password.
Talk to your parents or teachers if someone’s online behavior makes you uncomfortable.
Cyberbullying is not okay. If someone is making you feel bad or uncomfortable through social media or text messages, don’t respond. Instead, notify a parent or adult you trust. If you see anything online that you don’t think is right, even if it doesn’t involve you, it’s a good idea to talk openly with your parents or teacher about what you see.
Appropriate Email and Messages
Lots of “bad guys” on the Internet will try to trick people into downloading malware or viruses through email messages. A computer virus is a program that can make your laptop “sick.” Email addresses should remain private so only give yours to people you know in real life. If you meet someone new, ask your parents first if it’s okay to give them your email address. Do not open email from strangers. If you receive any kind of email that you’re not sure is safe or not, get an adult to come help you figure out if you should open it. Clicking on links in suspicious emails is a great way to infect your computer with malware.
Also be aware of emails from friends containing nothing more than shortened or otherwise suspicious links. They mean a cybercriminal has taken over your friends’ accounts, so do not click on the links.
Just because it’s On The Internet Doesn’t Mean it’s True.
Internet bad guys can try to trick you into giving away information about yourself for many reasons, none of which are safe. Remember that everyone’s real face is hidden behind a computer screen, even if they show a photo of themselves. Any stranger can pretend to be a friend. If anything you come across online makes you feel confused, uncomfortable or even scares you, know that it’s ok to go get an adult to help you make the right decisions while online.
A Few More Helpful Hints
- Never post hurtful or embarrassing photos and messages about others. Would you want that done to you?
- Follow the “What Would Grandma Say?” rule. Once you put something on the Internet, it’s there to stay. Think of what your grandma would say before you post something, and keep the future in mind in terms of college admissions officers, etc.
- Take advantage of privacy settings. If you aren’t sure how to set them up correctly, ask an adult for help.
- Avoid posting about specific locations.
- Do not “friend” strangers. If you don’t know the person, do not friend him or her.
Stay aware and alert online. Always seek help from an adult when in doubt. Make sure your devices are protected with a robust security system like Norton Security.