There was once a time when having “the talk” with your kids meant an awkward conversation with your children about the birds and the bees. Now, however, “the talk” has evolved; it is not just about protecting their physical health or discussing other important topics. This new and essential conversation talks about protecting their personal identity, avoiding online predators, and more.
There’s little doubt that today’s connected kids face an entirely new threat, one that most of us parents have never had to deal with. Cyberbullying, sextortion, predators, dangerous apps that all the “cool kids” at school are using…the list of potential threats is extensive, and those are just the ones that can do the most harm. Add on topics like identity theft, scams, and fraud, and it can be tempting to pull the plug on technology.
This type of conversation is not a once-and-done discussion
As a parent, if you approach this topic as an ongoing open door of information, the task will be more comfortable and the results more lasting. Just like many other important discussions you have with your children, this one needs to start while they are young and continue as they develop to provide them with up-to-date, age-appropriate information.
Teach them how to adopt new technology safely
If your child looked at you as a wide-eyed preschooler and asked where babies come from, the answer you provided at the time certainly isn’t going to suffice when they are teenagers. Well, the same is true of technology use and cybersafety. Teaching them only to open the apps or software Mommy installed for them and making sure they use technology where you can see what they are doing isn’t going to keep them safe when they are in high school. The conversation surrounding cybersecurity has to evolve as they grow and gain independence.
Make sure your family knows to speak up and ask for help
One of the most important things to instill, no matter how old they are, is that there is no mistake that you cannot help them fix. Whether it is clicking on something they should not have seen, accidentally downloading a virus or even more dangerous threats like chatting online with a stranger who begins extorting money or photos, you can help them solve the problem if they naturally come to you. Online activities harm far too many children, and much of the pain could be prevented if parents know their children are engaged in something dangerous. Raising today’s digital natives brings its own unique challenges, and these resources can help form the basis for your family’s discussions, rules surrounding tech use, and more.
About the Author: Eva Velasquez
Eva is the President/CEO at the Identity Theft Resource Center. She has a passion for consumer protection and educating the public about identity theft, privacy, scams and fraud, and other related issues and is recognized as a national expert on these topics.