Safer Internet Day: 6 Tips to Help Keep Your Kids Safe Online

At Okta, we understand the value of keeping user identities safe. We often talk about protecting customer and workplace identities—and how that’s a valuable step in safeguarding your organization from a breach. But there’s another demographic group that’s just as important to protect: kids and teens.

As the world becomes more digitally enabled, so do our children. Whether it’s on social media sites or online video games, young users are creating accounts across various platforms, sharing their personal information—and this poses a large threat. In 2017, more than one million children were victims of identity fraud, resulting in total losses of $2.6 billion. Cybercriminals are capitalizing on this trend, particularly when it comes to financial fraud. This is largely because it can take years to detect that a child’s social security information has been used for fraudulent credit transactions.

You may already engage with several security features that protect your digital identity—both in your workplace and personal applications—but what are you doing at home? On Safer Internet Day, we’re offering six tips to help ensure your child is safe online.

1. Implement parental controls

Parental controls are a critical tool for protecting your child’s identity as they place limitations on what content they can access. Start by talking to your internet service provider (ISP): they should allow you to block specific chat rooms, instant messaging services, and websites; filter out images and videos; and set time limits on internet usage. They’ll also provide alerts if someone tries to change these settings and enable you to keep an eye on user activity. You should also be able to implement these restrictions within your browsers.

As an added measure, you can also change the settings on any of your child’s social media accounts to ensure that their profiles are private, that they can’t engage in chats with strangers, and that their accounts aren’t easily found in a search.

2. Help them set up a password manager

If it were up to them, your children would likely use their favorite superhero, TV show character, or pop star as their password—making it easy to guess or crack with password spraying tools. However, having them remember a complex, reliable password is practically an impossible task. The solution? Have them use a password manager. Tools like LastPass create random, unique passwords for your child’s accounts and hold this information within a digital vault.

3. Encourage them to use secure networks

Public WiFi networks are dangerous as they have hardly any protection against man-in-the-middle attacks and malware distribution. Encourage your child to avoid public networks, like those in coffee shops or the mall. Ideally, they should only connect their devices to networks secured with a tough-to-crack password.

You should also advise them to keep an eye on the URL bar when online. At the start of each URL, the “s” in “https” stands for “secure” (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure). Websites that use ‘https’ as opposed to just ‘http’ tend to be safer and operate with a trusted connection. Advise your kids to avoid sharing their information on sites that don’t use this feature.

4. Teach them to avoid Chrome extensions

Games like Fortnite and Roblox are extremely popular among today’s youth—but they can be dangerous if not managed carefully. These applications often encourage players to add Chrome extensions for easy access to the game, encouraging them to give away their credentials. Keep an eye on what extensions have been added to your browsers and talk to them about the need to keep their information private.

5. Enroll them in multi-factor authentication

Keeping things simple is crucial to helping your child access the internet safely and securely—making multi-factor authentication (MFA) a no-brainer. With basic MFA, users are authenticated with more factors than just a password (e.g. a one-time password or SMS code), making access inherently more secure.

For kids, using biometrics like their face or thumbprint can make secure experiences easier to manage. This approach is also effective in protecting their data if their device is lost or stolen. We also suggest that parents employ biometric authentication on their own devices—that way your children can’t bypass your parental controls or access your email and credit card information.

6. Keep your eyes peeled

Regularly monitoring your child’s accounts and activity for any potential threats goes a long way in protecting their identity. Look out for potential phishing attacks in their communication applications and be mindful of notifications about unrecognized device sign-ins, as they might indicate an account takeover. If you feel their account might be at risk, be sure to change their passwords and MFA factors to keep the bad actors out.

Safer internet today and beyond

People are becoming accustomed to following best practices for safe internet usage at work—but it’s equally important to educate children about how to do the same. Education is key.

As your child starts crafting their digital identity, make sure you’re having open conversations about how to use the internet safely and have regular check-ins. Setting the stage early will ensure that they apply these practices as they become tomorrow’s employees and customers. Happy Safer Internet Day!

Learn more about the types of threats that you should protect your children from: