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Do Your Part. Teach Your Kids to be #BeCyberSmart.

Are your kids cyber smart? And, if we’re being honest as parents, are we as cyber smart as we should be? Our children live in an increasingly online world, balancing real-life interactions with those on social media and through virtual platforms. They’re growing up tech-savvy, far more so than ourselves. We want to support this from a young age because technology use will only increase as time goes on. However, it’s vital to ensure children — particularly teens, who have a level of digital access their younger counterparts don’t — are also as safe as they can be as they navigate their daily interactions.

This month, in honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month’s motto of “Do Your Part. #BeCyberSmart,” we’re sharing three tips for parents when sharing a dialogue with their children about simple ways to stay safe online.

3 Tips for Helping Your Online Student #BeCyberSmart

Tip 1: Use Strong Passphrases Unique to Each Account

Adults fall into this trap all the time! It’s more convenient to use the same password over and over and to fall back on easy-to-remember information to create passwords. Using a less complex password for multiple accounts leaves the user open to cybersecurity risks in multiple places.

Easy for the user to remember is one thing, but easy for others to GUESS is another. The key to creating a strong password is to go beyond the obvious. Skip birth dates, names of your pets, hometown, or other personal information as part of a password. Remember much of this info is public and could be found with an easy visit to your Instagram. Here are a few tips for strong login credentials:

  • Consider a passphrase. Similar to a password, a passphrase is longer and combines text, symbols, and digits to create an easier to remember and harder to crack password. For example, instead of using your favorite type of music, try r0CkaBi11y! for extra security.
  • Use a minimum of eight characters. The more characters, the better, and random characters are more secure than words.
  • Include all of the following character types in every password: capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. 
  • If you don’t have an infallible memory (who does?), consider a secure password manager like LastPass, which both allows you to generate strong, unique passwords for each individual website and service and provides a convenient and secure place to store these.
  • Don’t store passwords on your phone as contacts or in the notes. And don’t write passwords on Post-It notes or in day planners.

Tip 2: Check the Privacy Settings

Each digital platform your child uses has its own privacy settings. Walk them through each of the platforms they currently have access to and show them the various settings and why it is important to make use of each one. If you’re unfamiliar with some of the social platforms’ privacy settings, including TikTok, Instagram, and Snapchat, this article can help.

Tip 3: Think Before you Post

This tip is perhaps the most important. It’s possible to become friends with people from all over the world and to share our interests with others in ways that were never possible before. In addition to double- and triple-checking their privacy and security are protected, children need to understand the power their words and images can have on social media. 

In the same way we teach children the importance of thinking before they speak and act in in-person environments, we must also teach them to think before they post or share information digitally. Talk to your children about:

  • Oversharing— How much information is TOO MUCH information? Would I readily give this information to a stranger?
  • Understanding Context — Do you understand the meaning of the meme or post you are about to share? Is anything about it hurtful to others? Would I say these things to someone out loud?

The Importance of Cybersecurity Awareness Month

We believe very much in the power of connection, support, and relationship-building made possible through digital platforms. We celebrate the freedom our students have to learn. We also believe in the opportunities we have as parents and educators to help our children understand how to navigate an increasingly cyber world now and in the future. Initiatives like Cybersecurity Awareness Month are powerful reminders to proactively protect the privacy and personal data of our children, in addition to ourselves. 

If you have any questions about our learning management system or other online platforms, we’d be happy to answer them. For more information on our Lower School (K-5), Middle School (6-8), Upper School (9-12), Post Graduate, or Single-Course online education opportunities, our Admissions Team is excited to speak with you!