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Category: Online Safety for Kids

5 Fun Online Activities That Give Kids a Confidence Boost

How to Build Confidence in Kids

Is your child a little shy? Do they suffer from a lack of self-esteem? It’s a difficult time to be a child. With so many distractions, it can be easy to put personal relationships on the back burner.  Children can dive down a black hole into the internet void, spend countless hours completing video game campaigns, and plug into the virtual world.

While they’re doing this, they can tune out others and lose grasp of meaningful relationships. Once these relationships disappear, the impact can translate into other realms of your child’s life. They may lose the confidence to talk freely and openly to others or second guess their ability to do well in other aspects of their life such as schoolwork. 

Sometimes the internet, a place designed to connect individuals across the globe, can feel daunting and dividing. When this transposes itself into ordinary life, it can become a problem and a burden. That is why I put together a list of online activities that stray from the gloom and doom and promote healthy habits and elevate self-esteem. 

Afterschool Gaming Clubs

Does your child’s school offer after school programming? If they do, odds are that they may have a program specific to online gaming or video game creation. If not, then try checking out local community centers. If all else fails, these resources will help you create your own after school program. 

These types of clubs are becoming more and more prevalent and can create a sense of community with your child. Not all kids are into sports or art. These clubs are the perfect option for the video game obsessed youth and can offer more than just a community of fellow gamers. Some clubs dive into video game creation and actually allow the students to create their own games, teaching meaningful skills while enjoying games with peers. This sense of community can be extremely important for boosting the learning and the self-esteem of your child. 

Educational Games 

Online educational games are not only fun, but they can provide your child with the confidence necessary to speak up in class. Kids are much more likely to raise their hand and participate when they have background knowledge on the topic. These educational games are the perfect way to get something out of time spent online.

There are tons of online educators out there. It is only a matter of knowing where to search to find the organizations that have put together games meant to further learning. Learn how to refine your search to find highly reputable site to try out, such as found on this online educational games.

Kid-Friendly Social Media Sites

Social media is a scary place, even for adults. But, there are platforms out there specifically for kids. At first you may think that this sounds like a terrible idea and an easy way for strangers to interact with your child. But, these sites take safety seriously. Unlike the Myspace and Facebook’s of the world, these sites are focused on safety and provide a great introduction to social media for kids of various ages.

Most of these sites allow parents to control their child’s overall usage and monitor their accounts. This means that your child can enjoy the interaction with peers, while you assure they don’t go overboard with it. Some sites are extremely basic and only offer the simplest of features, while some are in-depth and showcase some top-notch safety features, such as required background checks. It may be best to monitor your child’s presence on these sites at first, but eventually these social media sites should provide your child with communication skills that will transfer to the real world. 

Geocaching

Have you heard of geocaching? This is a great activity for young kids to do with the rest of the family or a wholesome activity for older kids to take part in with friends. Not only does this activity get you outside, but through their easy to use app you join an online community of treasure hunters.

So, what is geocaching? Geocaching utilizes GPS coordinates to show the locations of various geocaches (containers/treasure chests). Individuals then navigate to the geocache and find hidden goods. There are several different categories of geocaches that keep the search interesting every time. You can solve a puzzle to discover coordinates or find geocaches specific to major landmarks. This interactive community allows you to utilize your online skills to navigate the real world. 

While it is great for children to be outside exploring, it can also be very stressful for a parent. If you have older children and want to keep track of their whereabouts while they’re out and about exploring, then I suggest investing in a GPS-based tracker to ease your worries. 

iNaturalist

This is an environmentally-focused parent’s best friend. Not only does this app (also web-based) offer the opportunity to learn about different species, but similar to geocaching, it also gets kids outside. Look out for something called a “bioblitz” in your area. The National Park System, as well as numerous State Park Systems and non-profits hold these events to gather as many observations as possible in a specific period of time. For instance, while I worked for Tennessee State Parks, we developed a statewide bioblitz and created a variety of family-friendly programming around the event. This can be a great way to get out with the family and explore an area otherwise not accessible. 

The feeling of discovery can be a tremendous joy for children and adults alike. By discovering different plant and animal species, children learn about the natural world and increase their observational skills. This can translate directly to social and academic situations. According to childrensmuseums.org, “The informal understanding children gain through experimentation, observation, and comparison in play lays the foundation for higher-order thinking and later learning of formal STEM concepts”. For more information on iNaturalist and how it can benefit your child’s learning check out their site

Conclusion

Regardless of which avenue you and your child take, the most important thing for improving self-esteem is the feeling of inclusion. These activities provide a community for your child to become a part of and share experiences. Those experiences will help define your child as an individual and grant them an identity to believe in. Hopefully, after discovering themselves and learning to believe in their abilities, your children will transfer this new, increased self-esteem into every aspect of their lives. So, get them involved and start building those memories.

Author Bio: Chandler Clayton is a freelance writer, specializing in education and safety. He draws upon his years of teaching environmental education to empower learning in children and adults of all backgrounds. He has been featured on sites such as SafeWise, USA Today, and Newsday.

Is your child a little shy? Do they suffer from a lack of self-esteem? It’s a difficult time to be a child. With so many distractions, it can be easy to put personal relationships on the back burner.  Children can dive down a black hole into the internet void, spend countless hours completing video game campaigns, and plug into the virtual world.

While they’re doing this, they can tune out others and lose grasp of meaningful relationships. Once these relationships disappear, the impact can translate into other realms of your child’s life. They may lose the confidence to talk freely and openly to others or second guess their ability to do well in other aspects of their life such as schoolwork. 

Sometimes the internet, a place designed to connect individuals across the globe, can feel daunting and dividing. When this transposes itself into ordinary life, it can become a problem and a burden. That is why I put together a list of online activities that stray from the gloom and doom and promote healthy habits and elevate self-esteem. 

Afterschool Gaming Clubs

Does your child’s school offer after school programming? If they do, odds are that they may have a program specific to online gaming or video game creation. If not, then try checking out local community centers. If all else fails, these resources will help you create your own after school program. 

These types of clubs are becoming more and more prevalent and can create a sense of community with your child. Not all kids are into sports or art. These clubs are the perfect option for the video game obsessed youth and can offer more than just a community of fellow gamers. Some clubs dive into video game creation and actually allow the students to create their own games, teaching meaningful skills while enjoying games with peers. This sense of community can be extremely important for boosting the learning and the self-esteem of your child. 

Educational Games 

Online educational games are not only fun, but they can provide your child with the confidence necessary to speak up in class. Kids are much more likely to raise their hand and participate when they have background knowledge on the topic. These educational games are the perfect way to get something out of time spent online.

There are tons of online educators out there. It is only a matter of knowing where to search to find the organizations that have put together games meant to further learning. Learn how to refine your search to find highly reputable site to try out, such as found on this online educational games.

Kid-Friendly Social Media Sites

Social media is a scary place, even for adults. But, there are platforms out there specifically for kids. At first you may think that this sounds like a terrible idea and an easy way for strangers to interact with your child. But, these sites take safety seriously. Unlike the Myspace and Facebook’s of the world, these sites are focused on safety and provide a great introduction to social media for kids of various ages.

Most of these sites allow parents to control their child’s overall usage and monitor their accounts. This means that your child can enjoy the interaction with peers, while you assure they don’t go overboard with it. Some sites are extremely basic and only offer the simplest of features, while some are in-depth and showcase some top-notch safety features, such as required background checks. It may be best to monitor your child’s presence on these sites at first, but eventually these social media sites should provide your child with communication skills that will transfer to the real world. 

Geocaching

Have you heard of geocaching? This is a great activity for young kids to do with the rest of the family or a wholesome activity for older kids to take part in with friends. Not only does this activity get you outside, but through their easy to use app you join an online community of treasure hunters.

So, what is geocaching? Geocaching utilizes GPS coordinates to show the locations of various geocaches (containers/treasure chests). Individuals then navigate to the geocache and find hidden goods. There are several different categories of geocaches that keep the search interesting every time. You can solve a puzzle to discover coordinates or find geocaches specific to major landmarks. This interactive community allows you to utilize your online skills to navigate the real world. 

While it is great for children to be outside exploring, it can also be very stressful for a parent. If you have older children and want to keep track of their whereabouts while they’re out and about exploring, then I suggest investing in a GPS-based tracker to ease your worries. 

iNaturalist

This is an environmentally-focused parent’s best friend. Not only does this app (also web-based) offer the opportunity to learn about different species, but similar to geocaching, it also gets kids outside. Look out for something called a “bioblitz” in your area. The National Park System, as well as numerous State Park Systems and non-profits hold these events to gather as many observations as possible in a specific period of time. For instance, while I worked for Tennessee State Parks, we developed a statewide bioblitz and created a variety of family-friendly programming around the event. This can be a great way to get out with the family and explore an area otherwise not accessible. 

The feeling of discovery can be a tremendous joy for children and adults alike. By discovering different plant and animal species, children learn about the natural world and increase their observational skills. This can translate directly to social and academic situations. According to childrensmuseums.org, “The informal understanding children gain through experimentation, observation, and comparison in play lays the foundation for higher-order thinking and later learning of formal STEM concepts”. For more information on iNaturalist and how it can benefit your child’s learning check out their site

Conclusion

Regardless of which avenue you and your child take, the most important thing for improving self-esteem is the feeling of inclusion. These activities provide a community for your child to become a part of and share experiences. Those experiences will help define your child as an individual and grant them an identity to believe in. Hopefully, after discovering themselves and learning to believe in their abilities, your children will transfer this new, increased self-esteem into every aspect of their lives. So, get them involved and start building those memories.

Author Bio: Chandler Clayton is a freelance writer, specializing in education and safety. He draws upon his years of teaching environmental education to empower learning in children and adults of all backgrounds. He has been featured on sites such as SafeWise, USA Today, and Newsday.

4 Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Good Online Behavior

Parents Talking to Kids About Online Safety

Today, access to the internet is pervasive. And while the internet has many benefits, it also carries some risks. As parents, you need to talk to your kids about how to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly. Here’s how you can start the conversation and build a safe online environment for your family. 

1. Start early

Today, exposure to the internet begins at a young age. Yet 18% of teens say they haven’t talked with anybody about what good online behavior looks like. Don’t wait to start talking to your kids about proper internet behavior and setting appropriate boundaries.

For younger children, this might be as simple as setting time limits on screen use, disciplining yourself not to use technology as a pacifier to calm rowdy behavior, and encouraging offline play and interactions.

As your kids get older, budget more screen time paired with more responsibility and accountability. Eventually, you can also start introducing more mature topics of conversation, such as internet safety, cyberbullying, and privacy.

By opening the lines of communication early, you can set clear expectations from the start and help guide your kids along the way.     

2. Do your homework

Before you sit down with your child, brush up on the latest internet trends and social apps. If your kid uses social media, what channels are they active on?

Some of the most popular platforms for today’s teens and tweens include:

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Kik Messenger
  • Tumblr 
  • Tik Tok

Despite their popularity, these apps carry risks—particularly for budding teens and young adults who are still learning how to navigate the internet and digital relationships.

In order to give your child the best guidance, you need to understand what platforms they are using and how those apps work—including their privacy settings, age requirements, and the kind of information that is shared. Armed with that knowledge, you can set appropriate boundaries and educate your child on the risks and best practices for online safety. 

3. Explain the risks

Once you understand how your kids engage online, you can better address the specific risks involved.

Talk to your kids about these risks (as developmentally appropriate). By outlining the dangers and consequences of certain behaviors, you can help your children understand not only what they should do, but why.

As you discuss internet safety, consider teaching your children about the following:

  • Privacy issues: Oversharing personal information or details could put you at risk for identity theft or embarrassment. 
  • Harassment or bullying: Many apps and social platforms make it easy for kids and adults alike to participate in bullying behavior—whether that’s spreading gossip, sharing others’ private content (like sensitive photos), or writing hurtful comments. 
  • Reputation management: What happens on the internet doesn’t just go away. Things that happened online years ago could come up again later in life, such as during college applications or job interviews.  

Explain that because of these risks, you will be setting certain rules and guidelines for how the family uses the internet. 

4. Set expectations 

As with other areas of parenting, internet use in your household should have clear guidelines based on your family values and each kid’s maturity level. Setting limits isn’t always easy—especially if you are parenting a teenager—but it is important to be open and honest about what you expect of them and how they will be held accountable.

The exact limits you set will depend on your child’s age and maturity. Keep in mind that you will likely need to revisit your “house rules” with the family periodically as your children grow and they adopt new technology (e.g., upgrading to a smartphone).

In addition to time limits, consider outlining basic dos and don’ts of online behavior. These might include:

  • Never share passwords, addresses, or other private information over the internet.
  • Don’t illegally download content.
  • Don’t download unknown files from the internet (or ask an adult to check potential downloads).  
  • Avoid accepting friend requests or messages from strangers.
  • Never set up a meeting with someone you’ve only talked to online.
  • Be respectful; remember that online anonymity isn’t an excuse for bullying or other meanspirited behavior.
  • Don’t share friends’ information or content without permission. 
  • Always sign out of accounts when using public computers. 

Sit down with your children and explain your expectations and map these guidelines in a formal family media use plan.

Teaching your kids about internet safety and good online habits takes time and patience. It is not a one-off event but an ongoing conversation. As you stay involved in their lives—both online and offline—you will be able to guide them more effectively and help them develop into successful digital citizens.  

Today, access to the internet is pervasive. And while the internet has many benefits, it also carries some risks. As parents, you need to talk to your kids about how to navigate the digital world safely and responsibly. Here’s how you can start the conversation and build a safe online environment for your family. 

1. Start early

Today, exposure to the internet begins at a young age. Yet 18% of teens say they haven’t talked with anybody about what good online behavior looks like. Don’t wait to start talking to your kids about proper internet behavior and setting appropriate boundaries.

For younger children, this might be as simple as setting time limits on screen use, disciplining yourself not to use technology as a pacifier to calm rowdy behavior, and encouraging offline play and interactions.

As your kids get older, budget more screen time paired with more responsibility and accountability. Eventually, you can also start introducing more mature topics of conversation, such as internet safety, cyberbullying, and privacy.

By opening the lines of communication early, you can set clear expectations from the start and help guide your kids along the way.     

2. Do your homework

Before you sit down with your child, brush up on the latest internet trends and social apps. If your kid uses social media, what channels are they active on?

Some of the most popular platforms for today’s teens and tweens include:

  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • Kik Messenger
  • Tumblr 
  • Tik Tok

Despite their popularity, these apps carry risks—particularly for budding teens and young adults who are still learning how to navigate the internet and digital relationships.

In order to give your child the best guidance, you need to understand what platforms they are using and how those apps work—including their privacy settings, age requirements, and the kind of information that is shared. Armed with that knowledge, you can set appropriate boundaries and educate your child on the risks and best practices for online safety. 

3. Explain the risks

Once you understand how your kids engage online, you can better address the specific risks involved.

Talk to your kids about these risks (as developmentally appropriate). By outlining the dangers and consequences of certain behaviors, you can help your children understand not only what they should do, but why.

As you discuss internet safety, consider teaching your children about the following:

  • Privacy issues: Oversharing personal information or details could put you at risk for identity theft or embarrassment. 
  • Harassment or bullying: Many apps and social platforms make it easy for kids and adults alike to participate in bullying behavior—whether that’s spreading gossip, sharing others’ private content (like sensitive photos), or writing hurtful comments. 
  • Reputation management: What happens on the internet doesn’t just go away. Things that happened online years ago could come up again later in life, such as during college applications or job interviews.  

Explain that because of these risks, you will be setting certain rules and guidelines for how the family uses the internet. 

4. Set expectations 

As with other areas of parenting, internet use in your household should have clear guidelines based on your family values and each kid’s maturity level. Setting limits isn’t always easy—especially if you are parenting a teenager—but it is important to be open and honest about what you expect of them and how they will be held accountable.

The exact limits you set will depend on your child’s age and maturity. Keep in mind that you will likely need to revisit your “house rules” with the family periodically as your children grow and they adopt new technology (e.g., upgrading to a smartphone).

In addition to time limits, consider outlining basic dos and don’ts of online behavior. These might include:

  • Never share passwords, addresses, or other private information over the internet.
  • Don’t illegally download content.
  • Don’t download unknown files from the internet (or ask an adult to check potential downloads).  
  • Avoid accepting friend requests or messages from strangers.
  • Never set up a meeting with someone you’ve only talked to online.
  • Be respectful; remember that online anonymity isn’t an excuse for bullying or other meanspirited behavior.
  • Don’t share friends’ information or content without permission. 
  • Always sign out of accounts when using public computers. 

Sit down with your children and explain your expectations and map these guidelines in a formal family media use plan.

Teaching your kids about internet safety and good online habits takes time and patience. It is not a one-off event but an ongoing conversation. As you stay involved in their lives—both online and offline—you will be able to guide them more effectively and help them develop into successful digital citizens.  

Online Summer Safety Tips for Kids

Summer Fun

School’s out, and that means your kids have lots of time free to spend online chatting, making plans with friends, and posting fun summertime photos—sometimes without you there to supervise. If that gives you anxiety, fear not. Here are four steps that will keep keep your child safe online this summer.

1. Set Rules for Responsible Use

Sit down with your children and talk frankly about why you care about their online safety, covering big topics like cyberbullying or identity theft in a way that matches their maturity level. Then work together to define clear, understandable rules for their online interactions. Here are a few basics to consider:

  • Never post personal info like addresses and phone numbers on social media.
  • Avoid location check-ins and photo geo-tagging, which can be used to track where you are as well as when you are away from home.
  • Be wary of free games and other goodies, which can infect your devices with malware. Keep security software up to date and scan everything before downloading.
  • Use secure passwords and protect them. There are several password managers out there that can generate strong passwords and store them all in one place.

Once you’ve agreed upon the ground rules, put them into a contract to be signed by everyone in the family.

2. Follow Your Own Rules

This is an important follow-up to the previous rule. You want your kids not to text or go online after 10 p.m.? Shut down your phone and laptop at the same time.

Don’t want them posting embarrassing photos of you? Let them veto pictures they may not be happy with you sharing on social media, too.

If you can adhere to the rules you and your kids built together, they will feel more inclined to do so as well.

3. Build Your Child’s Critical Thinking Skills

In a world abounding with fake news, help your kids think critically about any content they find online. Encourage older kids especially to fact-check stories before reposting on Facebook or commenting on Twitter.

Teach them to question their own motives as well. Just because a comment will generate a lot of likes, that doesn’t mean they should post it. Even one poorly chosen post can cause problems down the line.

The Family Online Safety Institute has also developed a checklist that includes reminders to remove and untag unwanted posts, and to “accentuate the positive” by posting upbeat content.

4. Let Your Kids Know You Will Still Monitor Online Usage

Finally, let your kids know that you may occasionally check up on their activity. Being upfront about your plans to look at their browser history and monitor their Facebook account will establish a sense of trust and keep them accountable.

For young kids who need a bit more oversight, there are plenty of helpful apps available to let you keep an eye on them. Older kids and teens may not need (or want) as much monitoring, so for them, you may be able to check in less often. To really emphasize trust, you can even ask them to put their passwords into a piggy bank for use only in an emergency.

The internet can be a great resource for helping kids learn and be social during their school-free summer months, and following the steps listed here will help them do so smartly, responsibly, and safely.

School’s out, and that means your kids have lots of time free to spend online chatting, making plans with friends, and posting fun summertime photos—sometimes without you there to supervise. If that gives you anxiety, fear not. Here are four steps that will keep keep your child safe online this summer.

1. Set Rules for Responsible Use

Sit down with your children and talk frankly about why you care about their online safety, covering big topics like cyberbullying or identity theft in a way that matches their maturity level. Then work together to define clear, understandable rules for their online interactions. Here are a few basics to consider:

  • Never post personal info like addresses and phone numbers on social media.
  • Avoid location check-ins and photo geo-tagging, which can be used to track where you are as well as when you are away from home.
  • Be wary of free games and other goodies, which can infect your devices with malware. Keep security software up to date and scan everything before downloading.
  • Use secure passwords and protect them. There are several password managers out there that can generate strong passwords and store them all in one place.

Once you’ve agreed upon the ground rules, put them into a contract to be signed by everyone in the family.

2. Follow Your Own Rules

This is an important follow-up to the previous rule. You want your kids not to text or go online after 10 p.m.? Shut down your phone and laptop at the same time.

Don’t want them posting embarrassing photos of you? Let them veto pictures they may not be happy with you sharing on social media, too.

If you can adhere to the rules you and your kids built together, they will feel more inclined to do so as well.

3. Build Your Child’s Critical Thinking Skills

In a world abounding with fake news, help your kids think critically about any content they find online. Encourage older kids especially to fact-check stories before reposting on Facebook or commenting on Twitter.

Teach them to question their own motives as well. Just because a comment will generate a lot of likes, that doesn’t mean they should post it. Even one poorly chosen post can cause problems down the line.

The Family Online Safety Institute has also developed a checklist that includes reminders to remove and untag unwanted posts, and to “accentuate the positive” by posting upbeat content.

4. Let Your Kids Know You Will Still Monitor Online Usage

Finally, let your kids know that you may occasionally check up on their activity. Being upfront about your plans to look at their browser history and monitor their Facebook account will establish a sense of trust and keep them accountable.

For young kids who need a bit more oversight, there are plenty of helpful apps available to let you keep an eye on them. Older kids and teens may not need (or want) as much monitoring, so for them, you may be able to check in less often. To really emphasize trust, you can even ask them to put their passwords into a piggy bank for use only in an emergency.

The internet can be a great resource for helping kids learn and be social during their school-free summer months, and following the steps listed here will help them do so smartly, responsibly, and safely.

A Guide to Removing Malware from Your Child’s Computer

Removing Malware from your Child's Computer

Malware is a term to describe viruses, worms, and other malicious software used to gain access to sensitive information or interfere with a computer’s performance. Do you suspect malicious software has infiltrated your child’s computer? You’re not alone.

It’s estimated that thousands of new malware files get released every day, increasing your child’s likelihood of coming across one of these programs. Keep reading to learn how to identify and remove it.

Evidence of Malware

Your child’s computer may have a virus if you notice any of the following malware warning signs:

  • The computer is running slower than normal
  • The computer crashes often
  • Your child sees an increase in pop-up messages
  • The hard drive storage is suddenly full
  • The browser has a different homepage or new toolbars
  • The computer has new software programs, or programs start on their own
  • You can hear the device’s hard drive fan working constantly

It’s worth noting that while PCs are more susceptible to malware, Mac computers can get viruses as well, so be on the lookout no matter which type of device your kids use.

How to Remove Malware

Step 1: Disconnect from the Internet and Activate Safe Mode

If you suspect your child’s computer is infected with malware, the first thing you should do is disconnect from the internet. This will prevent your data from being sent to the malware server or the malware from spreading.

Next, safe boot the computer. For PCs with Windows 10, open the power menu and hold the Shift key while clicking “Restart.” From there, select “Troubleshoot,” then “Advanced options,” and then “Startup settings,” which will give you the option to restart and select Safe Mode.

For Macs, restart the computer, press the Shift key after you hear the startup noise, and hold it until the login page loads.

Step 2: Delete Temporary Files

While in Safe Mode, delete any temporary files using the Disk Cleanup tool on PC, or by emptying the ~/Library/Cache folder on Mac. By deleting these files, the computer will be able to scan for a virus more quickly (and you’ll potentially get rid of any files that may have been harboring malware).

Step 3: Use a Malware Scanner

Ideally you would have a real-time malware scanner running constantly to catch malware before it takes hold, but if something got through, you can do a deeper on-demand scan. Restart the computer to exit Safe Mode, or else the scanning program won’t be able to run.

If you don’t have a usable anti-malware program, reboot to exit Safe Mode so you can download one. After installing the program, perform a scan of your child’s computer—this should flag and remove any malicious programs.

Note: If the malware prevents you from running a scan, you may need to restore to an old system backup, from before the malware was on the device.

Step 4: Undo Any Damage

Malware may try to alter the current web browser’s homepage, so check your domain and connection settings.

It’s also possible that you’ll need to recover or reinstall files and software that were lost. It’s important to regularly back up files in case a malicious software tries to attack your child’s computer.

Step 5: Improve Device Security

It’s easier to prevent malware than to remove it, so set your anti-malware software to run regular scans. Make sure any software is up to date, too, and reset any passwords that could’ve been compromised by the malicious program.

Step 6: Educate Your Child

Proactively teach your children the common signs of malware listed above. Set up guidelines for your children when they’re using the computer, and encourage them to ask an adult before visiting new sites or downloading anything.

While you may not always be able to avoid malware from infecting your child’s computer, you can work with them to better prevent it. Prepare your kids to use technology safely, and you’ll set them up for good online habits for the rest of their lives.

Malware is a term to describe viruses, worms, and other malicious software used to gain access to sensitive information or interfere with a computer’s performance. Do you suspect malicious software has infiltrated your child’s computer? You’re not alone.

It’s estimated that thousands of new malware files get released every day, increasing your child’s likelihood of coming across one of these programs. Keep reading to learn how to identify and remove it.

Evidence of Malware

Your child’s computer may have a virus if you notice any of the following malware warning signs:

  • The computer is running slower than normal
  • The computer crashes often
  • Your child sees an increase in pop-up messages
  • The hard drive storage is suddenly full
  • The browser has a different homepage or new toolbars
  • The computer has new software programs, or programs start on their own
  • You can hear the device’s hard drive fan working constantly

It’s worth noting that while PCs are more susceptible to malware, Mac computers can get viruses as well, so be on the lookout no matter which type of device your kids use.

How to Remove Malware

Step 1: Disconnect from the Internet and Activate Safe Mode

If you suspect your child’s computer is infected with malware, the first thing you should do is disconnect from the internet. This will prevent your data from being sent to the malware server or the malware from spreading.

Next, safe boot the computer. For PCs with Windows 10, open the power menu and hold the Shift key while clicking “Restart.” From there, select “Troubleshoot,” then “Advanced options,” and then “Startup settings,” which will give you the option to restart and select Safe Mode.

For Macs, restart the computer, press the Shift key after you hear the startup noise, and hold it until the login page loads.

Step 2: Delete Temporary Files

While in Safe Mode, delete any temporary files using the Disk Cleanup tool on PC, or by emptying the ~/Library/Cache folder on Mac. By deleting these files, the computer will be able to scan for a virus more quickly (and you’ll potentially get rid of any files that may have been harboring malware).

Step 3: Use a Malware Scanner

Ideally you would have a real-time malware scanner running constantly to catch malware before it takes hold, but if something got through, you can do a deeper on-demand scan. Restart the computer to exit Safe Mode, or else the scanning program won’t be able to run.

If you don’t have a usable anti-malware program, reboot to exit Safe Mode so you can download one. After installing the program, perform a scan of your child’s computer—this should flag and remove any malicious programs.

Note: If the malware prevents you from running a scan, you may need to restore to an old system backup, from before the malware was on the device.

Step 4: Undo Any Damage

Malware may try to alter the current web browser’s homepage, so check your domain and connection settings.

It’s also possible that you’ll need to recover or reinstall files and software that were lost. It’s important to regularly back up files in case a malicious software tries to attack your child’s computer.

Step 5: Improve Device Security

It’s easier to prevent malware than to remove it, so set your anti-malware software to run regular scans. Make sure any software is up to date, too, and reset any passwords that could’ve been compromised by the malicious program.

Step 6: Educate Your Child

Proactively teach your children the common signs of malware listed above. Set up guidelines for your children when they’re using the computer, and encourage them to ask an adult before visiting new sites or downloading anything.

While you may not always be able to avoid malware from infecting your child’s computer, you can work with them to better prevent it. Prepare your kids to use technology safely, and you’ll set them up for good online habits for the rest of their lives.