Category: Internet Filtering & Security

Teen’s Online Privacy and Cyber Security

teenagers onlines privacys and cyber security

Cyber security and online privacy are perhaps the most important considerations for any generation alive today, but especially for teenagers. Maintaining privacy when it comes to their personal identifying information, location and even family member identities will help to thwart efforts at identity theft and even traffickers trying to track down at-risk teenagers.


According to Stay Safe Online, 1/3 of a child’s life is spent online, 77% of children go to online school and 94% of teens do online research. Furthermore, 91% of 18-24 year-olds say they network online with people they don’t really know. 46% of the same age group uses file-sharing apps that offer access to their personal PCs and files. The most common password used in America is “password,” so further education on the importance of maintaining cybersecurity should be the number one goal of parents and teachers.

Personal safety isn’t the only thing at risk, either. Your teen may suffer from or witness cyberbullying through online messaging and social media, too. Bullying Statistics says that almost half of young people have received threatening messages online. 42% of youths experience bullying on Instagram, 37% on Facebook and 31% on Snapchat. 25% have been bullied through their cell phone.

In addition, the Cyberbullying Research Center says that 33.8% of students ages 12 to 17 have been victims of cyberbullying at some point in their lifetime. Yet, only 1 in 10 teens will tell a parent. This can result in widespread rumors as well as mental health issues in the victims.

Cyberbullying doesn’t only happen to younger children and teens.  41% of adults in the US report having personally experienced online harassment.

It Starts At Home

Stressing the importance of maintaining anonymity online and keeping accounts and files secured should start with parental guidance at home. Establishing trust between you and your teenager is the most vital step in making sure they’re using the Internet appropriately and protecting themselves. As a parent, you must keep tabs on the apps your teen is using and who they’re interacting with online.

This becomes more difficult the older your teen gets with the more privileges they earn. But gradually increasing their exposure to online games or social media can help you ensure they’re listening to your guidance as well as prepare them for adulthood, when you won’t be there to advise them.

If you and your teen have a trusting relationship, it should be rather easy for you to communicate about what’s happening with their accounts and activity online. As your teen matures, this may decrease, but they should be armed with the knowledge necessary to maintain their cybersecurity.

Also make sure you discuss with them the importance of avoiding cyberbullying and how it can affect others, and encourage them to bring any evidence of it to your attention. Reporting the bullying messages or comments and protecting your teen from any attacks can help avoid any future mental health effects it may have.

Talking Points

Ask them frequently about who they’re talking to in social apps, and explain why they shouldn’t accept requests or messages from people they don’t know in real life. Encourage them to immediately notify you if anything seems out of the ordinary with their accounts, teach them about the risk of session hijacking attacks, and to always change passwords at least every 90 days.

If your teen is new to using the Internet, frequently check their accounts and activity to keep tabs on the information they’re sharing and who they’re interacting with. Also keep in mind that many teens will have multiple social media accounts to try to confuse their parents.

The most important thing when trying to maintain transparency is explaining the reasons why you’re concerned about their cyber security. Traffickers will find victims on social media; pedophiles will pretend to be someone they’re not and strike up a relationship with teens online; gaming and other apps can share your teen’s location with strangers; pornographers may try to gain your teen’s trust so they can eventually request graphic images or video from them to disperse online; and hackers can gain access to accounts and cause everything from financial hardship to ruined reputations.

Cyber security has never before been such an important subject to discuss with your teenagers. Past generations had less access and sometimes no access, but today it’s an everyday occurrence for school work and extra-curricular activity. Ensuring they understand the importance of maintaining their privacy and not interacting with or sharing their location and other information with people they don’t know in real life is vitally important, too. As a parent, the best thing you can do is build a strong foundation of trust with your teen and gauge their maturity level and readiness for more freedom when working or playing online before giving them permission to utilize games and social media apps.

How to Protect Kids and Teens from Identity Theft

As a parent there are so many things you need to worry about to keep your kids safe, now there is another. Did you know that identity theft of kids and teens is on the rise? Just in 2016 alone, the FTC received 15,000 complaints of identity theft of a minor and in 2017 more than 1 million kids have their identities stolen.

Roughly 4% of all the cases reported in a year affect kids and teens. Unfortunately it quite easy for someone to steal a kid’s identity. Generally, it begins when a criminal takes your child’s social security number.

Why Do Thieves Use Children’s Identities

The top reason thieves target children with identity theft is that they have perfect credit. Adults can legally apply for credit, and usually do so. In turn, an adult can have either a great credit score, or a less-than-perfect credit score. Rather than take the gamble on whether or not a person has a good credit score, thieves target children. Kids don’t have mortgages or default loans or any credit card debt. It’s like grabbing a clean slate and using it all up before anyone finds out. Children are also easy targets because it may be years before the fraud is detected and they start to use their own identity.

How Thieves Use Children’s Identities

Criminals use kids’ identities for loans, renting property, applying for government benefits, and opening bank and credit card accounts. The most common method is when the thief steals your child’s social security number and then uses it with a different birth date. This process is known as creating a “synthetic identity.” Most the victim knows the identity thief. 22% of the time the identity theft is perpetrated by a parent, stepparent, sibling or other relatives.

The worst part is that criminals can get away with it for years as it usually goes unnoticed until the child is an adult and applies for credit. Identity theft hurts college kids chances of getting into school, applying for internships and obtaining their own real credit. Once their identity has been used and sullied, it is harder to clean up.

Protection and Prevention Tips

Like with many things, it is easier to prevent the problem than to fix it after it has happened. This begins with properly educating kids on the possible dangers online.

Thankfully the government is taking notice of this issue and has started penning laws protecting underage people from identity theft. In the meantime, as a parent, there is a lot you can do to protect your child and prevent identity theft.

Tip 1 – Protect Your Child’s Social Security Number

Never give out your child’s social security number to anyone who doesn’t need it. Although places like schools, extracurricular activities, and even medical offices may ask for it, they don’t need it. They are not offering your child credit and limiting access to your child’s SSN is the best defense against this type of crime.

Tip 2 – Review the Safety of Your Child’s School Information

Pay attention to privacy policies and find out how your child’s school safeguards the personal information they store on students. Consult with their security team and even the IT department to ensure your kid’s data is safe.

Tip 3 – Secure Your Kid’s and Teen’s Mobile Devices

Personal information can be stolen easily from mobile devices that are not adequately secured. Teach your kids how to create complex, safe passwords and always use them. Don’t forget to teach your kids about these types of scams, along with phishing emails and never to click on links they receive.

Tip 4 – Be Careful and Monitor Social Media

Teach your child how to use the Internet and be safe online. Be careful what you and your kids post on social media. Monitor their posts and tweets to make sure they are not oversharing or communicating with a stranger who could be an identity thief trying to steal their information.

Tip 5 – Get a Copy of Your Child’s Credit Report

You can quickly get a copy of your child’s credit report at any time to see if there is any activity. Bank loans, credit cards and other things that show up will indicate someone is using their social security number. You will need to take swift action to repair the damage.

How to Fix It, if it Happens To You

If you find out your child’s identity has been stolen take the steps below as quickly as possible to resolve it before they need to use their credit.

  1. Contact all the major credit reporting agencies and ask them to remove all the credit information, inquiries, accounts and everything associated with that social security number.
  2. Next, contact every business that is associated with those accounts like banks, credit cards and other places the credit was used.
  3. Ask each creditor to place a “fraud alert” on the account.
  4. Contact the FTC and file a fraud report. You can also call them at 877-438-4338.
  5. If any of the accounts were used for medical expenses or involve taxes, you would also need to contact the police.

Safer Search

What does it take to provide a safer web experience for kids? It takes a combination of tools and resources working together in unison: internet filtering, safe and secure browsing, parental control apps, and education. That is our mission at Safe Search Kids as we work to deliver these four cornerstones of online safety to parents, teachers, and students.