With schools across the country letting out for summer, kids are going to have a lot more free time, which means a lot more time online.

We have compiled several tips to help you help your child stay safe while online:

DON'T SHARE CREDENTIALS: Your teen may think it is no big deal to give their BFF complete access to their Snapchat, however it could cause big headaches - and possibly big trouble if that friend decides to post inappropriate things on your child's account. Not to mention, most kids use the same or similar credentials across multiple sites - which if accessed could lead to even bigger problems.

SHARE WITH CAUTION: The internet lives forever. Things your teen posts today, could come back to haunt them when they are looking to get into college or starting to look for a job. Remind them to keep it clean and be careful with what they post.

CONNECT WITH THOSE YOU KNOW: Remind your teens to keep their profiles set to private and only accept requests from people they know to keep their information from being accessed by someone with ill intent.

PARENT’S WORK COMPUTERS = OFF LIMITS: As parents, we've all done it at some point - allowed our children to jump on our computer to look something up, browse shopping sites, watch YouTube or play a game. If it is your work computer, we suspect your company probably has some pretty strict rules against this (and if they don't, they should). Most children are blissfully unaware of the dangers of malware, ransomware and other cyberthreats that can take out an entire network. It only takes one click on a malicious link or game download that could potentially harm the hard drive - or worse, find its way to your company's network. Aside from not allowing them on your work devices, a good rule of thumb is to have them check with you before they download anything to any device.

BE SMART WITH YOUR SMARTPHONE: Teaching children to be responsible when it comes to owning a smartphone and social media should be a constant conversation. Remind them frequently to keep their phone locked when not on it to keep their information private, as well as insisting they only to give their number to people they know (and never post it on social media). You may also want to consider turning off the phone’s GPS. Imagine if a stranger with malicious intent was able to gain access to your teen's location data (it is easier than you think). They could easily track the child's habits, see where they hang out, their school location. The danger with this should be obvious.

Here are the steps you should take to turn off GPS location on your child's phone:

For iPhone:

  1. Open Settings, swipe down and tap on Privacy
  2. Tap Location Services
  3. Tap the switch next to Location Services (from green (ON) to white (OFF))

For Android:

  1. Open Settings, swipe down and tap on “Security & location”
  2. Swipe down to Privacy, find Location, tap Location
  3. Tap the switch next to Use Location (from blue (ON) to gray (OFF))

KEEP YOUR ONLINE IDENTITY SECRET: If your child has social media or plays online games such as Fortnight, Minecraft or Roblox, make sure they are not using personal or identifiable information in their screen name - no last names, no date of birth. And if interacting with other players or even replying to friends' posts on social media, make sure your children know they should never give out information such as their address, what school they attend, what sports team they play for, etc. No matter how basic the information seems, it could be just enough for a predator.

KEEP IT COVERED: All it takes is one malicious link or download and a hacker can gain access to a device's webcam. If you don't want anyone watching you or your children without your knowledge or permission, make sure you cover the camera when not in use. A simple piece of tape or a webcam cover is all you need.

CAREFUL WHAT IS BEING SHARED ON PUBLIC WIFI: Everyone loves free public WiFi - especially kids with limited or no data plans. But public WiFi also has it share of dangers. Think of it this way: sending personal information over public WiFi is no different than sending personal information on a postcard - anyone can intercept what is being sent. If your teen is entering their credential for social media, or to check their bank account to see if they can buy that frappe, a hacker can intercept the information and then gain access to those accounts.

If using public WiFi is a necessity for your kids to be connected, encourage them to use a VPN, which will secure and encrypt the connection. There are several VPN apps available for iPhone and Android devices.

ANTIVIRUS UP TO DATE: As one final tip to help keep your kids safe while online, make sure you have installed security software, and that it is kept up to date. Be sure operating systems are current on all devices. It may not stop absolutely everything, but it will make it harder for hackers to gain access to you and your children’s information.

REPORTING THE BAD STUFF

Encourage children to tell you if they see something online that makes them uncomfortable. If warranted, make sure to report suspicious activity or people.

To report:

· Computer hacking, online stealing, or similar suspicious or illegal activity: www.ic3.gov.

· Suspicious activity involving sexual messages, nude photos (asking you to send or sending), someone trying to get you to do sexual things, or any other sexually related incident, go to www.cybertipline.com.

Sources: https://teens.webmd.com/features/teen-internet-safety-tips#1 ; https://www.safervpn.com/blog/internet-safety-tips-children-teens/

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