4 Tips to Teach Your Kids to Secure Their Personal Information Online

Kids viewing mobile devices

Whether you’re five or ninety-five, you’re at risk of having your personal or financial information stolen. But the thing is, if fraudulent accounts are opened with a child’s personal information, that fraud might go undetected for years! Could there be a worse time for discovery other than when they’re applying for a student loan or a loan for their first car?

There are four risk areas we’re going to cover: passwords, apps and games, downloads and links, and finally, social media. You’ll need to tailor what you say to your child based on their age and level of Internet experience.

1. Risk Area: Passwords

An easy-to-guess password might be all a hacker needs to “break in.” That’s why experts recommend not a password but instead a passphrase. Help your child pick a phrase, maybe the title of a favorite book or nursery rhyme, and then insert some numbers and special characters within it. “Wheelsonthebus” turns into “Wheels*ontheBus14!” and becomes next to impossible to guess. You’ll want to remind your child frequently to NEVER share their passphrases with anyone.

2. Risk Area: Apps & Games

What looks like just a simple - and free - game could actually be the source of malware - a software that acts like a super spy inside your computer. Hackers use malware for different tasks, all of them bad. You could just tell your child they aren’t allowed to download anything without having you or another adult’s ok. For older kids, though, it might be good to talk about malware and briefly explain how it works.

3.Risk Area: Downloads & Links

Here’s that malware problem in another form. You can bring up the concept of malware to warn about the dangers of downloading attachments. Malware can also be launched by clicking on links, so add links to your security convo, too.

4. Risk Area: Social Media Platforms

Because most social media sites ask for all kinds of personal information – date of birth, hometown, and school name, to name a few – you’ll need to teach your kiddo that just because a site asks for this information, you generally don’t have to provide it. Go a little deeper and explain that this type of information could get into the hands of bad guys. Once they have it, they can put your child, your child’s personal information, and your family’s computers at risk.

Here’s an additional Facebook tip to share with your kids: don’t accept Facebook friend requests from people you’re already friends with. That’s a sure sign that the real friend’s account has been hacked. Another specific rule: don’t participate in quizzes or “free” giveaways. Often hackers use these to collect personal information.

What Else Can You Do?

Having initial conversations about online safety is important. So is keeping that dialogue going. We encourage you to check out our blog where we regularly post about security concerns.

The content provided in this publication is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated is to be construed as financial or legal advice. Some products not offered by PSECU. PSECU does not endorse any third parties, including, but not limited to, referenced individuals, companies, organizations, products, blogs, or websites. PSECU does not warrant any advice provided by third parties. PSECU does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by third parties. PSECU recommends that you seek the advice of a qualified financial, tax, legal, or other professional if you have questions.