Category: Online Safety for Kids

How to Make Gaming Online Safer for Your Children

Make Online Gaming Safer for Your Children

Kids love video games. They’re fun, exciting, and can even be educational. However, there are some risks involved when playing online games. As a parent, taking the necessary steps protect your children from these dangers has never been more important.  The worst of these dangers are cyber criminals, predators and hackers.

They use online gaming platforms and gaming websites to seek out children to exploit or to use them as as a gateway to an attack.  Parents are the first defense against potential harm and it begins with understanding the risks of their children’s digital environment. So, how can you safeguard your children online? Here are some ways to keep your children safe online.

1. Parental Controls

There are two types of parental controls available to protect kids on smartphones, desktops, and consoles such as 3DS, Nintendo Switch, or PlayStation is important.   Mobile devices such as phones, tablets and computers come with very limited filtering settings.  This includes when kids play online games such as Fortnite and Roblox.   For these types of computer related devices you will need to install parental controls apps or software.

Gaming on consoles, such as Nintendo, Xbox or PlayStation, will require parents to use built-in parental control settings.  There is no means to install parental controls on these types of consoles. You can set privacy settings on the console to limit who can message you and prevent strangers from seeing your name.

Keep your devices up-to-date:  Your child’s device should regularly updates with the most recent software patches. Many gaming consoles and other devices are launched with unknown vulnerabilities. Manufacturers release updates to address these vulnerabilities later. Hackers and cyber criminals can exploit unpatched vulnerabilities to infiltrate your network. This can give access to your network at work or other devices at home.

2. Age-appropriate Games

Parents can use video game ratings to determine whether the content is suitable for their children before they buy them. Ratings can vary depending on where they are located, what device they use, and what platform they are on.

PEGI, for example, is primarily used in Europe and Asia. PEGI 3 indicates that the game is suitable for all ages, while PEGI 18 signifies that the game contains adult content such as gross violence. Other numbers are determined based on the game’s level of violence or sexual content.

The Entertainment Software Ratings Board (ESRB) rates game distributed in the United States. Instead of numbers, ESRB uses letters such as E if the content is suitable for everyone (or everyone) and An if it is only for adults.

The App Store uses global Application Ratings. Numbers indicate the ratings. Numbers indicate the rating. For example, a rating of 4+ indicates no objectionable material within the app. A rating of 17+ indicates that it may contain material unsuitable for children younger than 17.

Google Age Ratings are available for Android users. They are based on an International Age Rating Coalition (IARC) system. These ratings are often based on the most popular regional ratings.

3. Use strong passwords

Use strong passwords for your children’s accounts and educate them about the importance of protecting them. They cannot give out their passwords or other personal information to anyone. They should not share login details or other private information in chats or social networking platforms.

You can teach them how to enable MFA (multiple-factor authentication) whenever possible.

Remind your children not to use the same password for multiple accounts to prevent credential stuffing attacks. They should also ensure that they log out of gaming accounts after they are finished using them.

4. Only Download from Trusted Sources

Remind children that they should only allow their parents to download expansions, apps, and games. Teaching older children about the dangers of downloading apps and games from other sites is important.

Hackers often spread malware disguised as a game app, expansion, or cheat code. Once they have downloaded the malware, hackers can gain greater access to the device.

It is important to remind your children that only official sites can be used for downloading games. While many official sites have security checks in place, there are still some bogus apps that can slip through the cracks. Make sure to always check out reviews before downloading any games.

5. Do not click links or download files from strangers

Your children should not click on links sent to them by strangers via chat. Security risks can be present even for links sent by friends. Many phishing links are sent to children who click them, thinking they will be able to download a cheat code.

It does not contain bonus content or cheat code but leads to a site that collects their information. The information collected may be used to commit identity theft or fraud.

Children should be aware that file attachments can contain malware.

7. Get Rid of the Headset?

Safe Online Gaming for Children

Parents with small children are especially vulnerable. While you might think that a headset will quieten the house, it could be dangerous for your child to start talking to strangers. Online predators pose as children and lurk on gaming sites.

They may befriend children, gain their trust, and then abuse them.

Online grooming involves teaching children to keep their conversations secret from their parents. Parents don’t know their children are talking to predators, so they are tricked into sending photos or videos. Even worse, they may be forced to meet in person.

Online grooming is easier with a headset because parents don’t have to spot potential red flags immediately.

8. Do not use public Wi-Fi

Children might feel tempted to use a public, unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot to play on their mobile devices or Nintendo Switch while out. Connecting to such a network can pose security risks.

Hackers can position themselves between your child’s device and the connection point. They can access information such as passwords, email addresses, and credit card information (if they are used to purchase apps or make in-app purchases). They can also redirect internet traffic to the device.

Home WiFi Security:  While public Wi-Fi is always a concern, parent should also ensure Wi-Fi connections on their home network is fully secure.

These Are the Best Ways to Minimize Your Teen’s Digital Footprint

How to Minimize Your Teen's Digital Footprint

Most teenagers are unaware that their online presence leaves a trail that leads back to them. Everything they do online is not only difficult to remove, but it can also impact their future. From applying to college to getting their foot in the door in a career, digital footprints can make or break a teen’s future and goals if they aren’t careful.

Good Digital Citizenship

Digital citizenship is the way you behave online. When you were a teen, you didn’t have to worry so much about the repercussions of your actions catching up with you. Teens today should be aware and use caution in interacting socially online. Social media is designed to connect with peers but can easily be used for bullying. That funny meme might seem to be worth sharing at the moment, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t affect you negatively professionally.

Be careful when choosing what to put out there in the digital world. If you’re unsure if something would be appropriate to share, take a screenshot of it and send it to a select few. It is essential to teach your teen that good digital citizenship will follow them into college and their chosen career path. It is not uncommon for colleges to rescind acceptance letters for behavior they see on social media platforms.

Dangers of a Digital Footprint

Cyberbullying is a harmful use of social media that is an ongoing challenge that will only worsen without proper guidance for our teens. More than 30,000 suicide deaths occur each year in the U.S. Cyberbullying plays a significant role in this suicide rate because it targets teens that could already be suffering from depression or another disorder. Cyberbullying might seem harmless to some teens, but written words can be easily misinterpreted and taken out of context.

Teens should be careful even when they are joking about what they say on social media. They are leaving a breadcrumb trail that will stay with them forever. It is doubtful that your teen would intentionally hurt someone, but ensure they know the dangers of how their words can be misconstrued. Tell them about the game of telephone where something is whispered into a person’s ear, and then it’s passed around the room. More often than not, the said phrase is not the same once it travels around the room. Teach your teen that their words matter.

Restrict Access To Personal Information

Set guidelines for what your children should share online and what they should keep private. Educate them on the parameters of safely sharing information. They should know not to ever share sensitive information no matter the circumstances. If they question something, encourage them to come to you to be sure before they enter anything they’re unsure of. Don’t wait until something happens to create guidelines for them. They should never share their phone number or address anywhere online.

Negative Digital Footprint Impacts

There are numerous harmful impacts that your teen’s digital footprint can have on their future. College admissions and military recruiting officers can and will take notice of your teen’s digital presence when considering their application. Employers and internships will also look up your teen online when considering them for a position.

Recruiters and coaches will look at your teen’s profiles when considering open positions on their team for colleges. Your teen is also at risk for identity theft every time they post online. Photos shared online are fair game for identity theft. Scholarships for college and internships often ask candidates for their social media profiles to peruse before considering them as applicants.

Anonymity Doesn’t Exist

Privacy doesn’t exist online. There is always someone watching, whether it’s an identity theft attempt, a cyberattack or the government through the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA). The ECPA authorizes the government’s admission to your files and folders online. The digital communications they can access are Facebook messages, email, your cloud and others.

The Library of Congress is saving tweets from Twitter for future generations. So, your anonymity is nonexistent. Urge your teens to stop and consider their content before they post it. Encourage them not to be impulsive and leave private conversations off of social media. Nothing online is temporary. Once it’s out there, it’s out and hard to remove even after it’s been deleted.

Enable Privacy Settings

Ensure all of your teen’s social media platforms are set to private. Make sure they have their location turned off on apps like Snapchat. They should know about numerous privacy settings if they’re allowed to use social media. Twitter has tweet protection where your followers are the only ones that see your tweets, besides the Library of Congress.

Apps like Instagram and Facebook have options to make your profiles private, so only people you choose can access the information you share. Keep track of your accounts and delete the ones you don’t use frequently. This will make it easier to maintain your digital footprint and gives you a smaller chance of data breach.

Center Stage

Social media has taken center stage in the way children communicate with each other. The game of telephone has become a thing of the past. Do you remember having to ask your parents to call someone long distance? What about call waiting or eavesdropping on your siblings’ conversations from the second phone in the house? It’s a whole new era now. Advise your children how easily they are susceptible to dangers online and encourage them to be selective and protected when posting content.

About the Author
Ava Roman (she/her) is the Managing Editor of Revivalist, a women’s lifestyle magazine that empowers women to live their most authentic life. When Ava is not writing you’ll find her in a yoga class, advocating for her children or whipping up something delicious in the kitchen!

10 Tips for Teaching your Child to Ride a Bike

Teaching Kids How to Ride a Bike

Riding a bike is a great way for kids to get exercise and have fun. It can also be a bit daunting for parents who are new to the process of teaching their children how to ride. Luckily, we have put together 10 helpful tips that will make the process easier and more enjoyable for both you and your child!

1. Safety First: Check Bike Setup, Clothing, and Helmet

Before you start the process of teaching your kid to ride a bike, it’s important to make sure the bike is set up properly. The following tips will help you do just that:

  • Make sure the seat is at the right height. It should be positioned so that when your child is sitting on the seat, their feet can reach the ground.
  • Check that the handlebars are at the correct height and angle.
  • Make sure the chain is lubricated and there is no rust on any of the parts.
  • Inflate the tires to the proper pressure.

It’s also essential to ensure your youngster is wearing the appropriate clothing, such as a helmet and that they are wearing shoes that will protect them if they fall. A good helmet is an important part of preventing head injuries in the event of a fall.

2. Learn Balance Speed Without Pedals

When your child is first starting to learn how to ride a bike, it’s important to focus on teaching them balance and speed before adding in the pedalling component. One way to do this is to have them ride without pedals at first. This will help them get used to the motion of riding a bike and help them build up their speed and balance. Once they’ve mastered this, then you can add in the pedals and help them learn how to use them effectively.

3. Steering the Bike

Now that your child is able to balance on a bike, it’s time to start working on steering. This involves getting comfortable with using the handlebars to control the direction of the bike.

  • Start by having your child hold the handlebars and steer back and forth while standing next to the bike.
  • Next, have them sit on the bike and hold the handlebars while you push them from behind.

Encourage your child to keep steering even when they’re going straight. This will help them get a feel for how the handlebars work.

4. Put the Pedals Back On

Once your child has mastered balance, it’s time to add in the pedals. This can be a little more challenging, so it’s important to take it slow. Start by adding the pedals back on the bike. Have your child stand next to the bike, holding onto it for support.

Show them how to place their feet on the pedals and explain how the pedals work. It may be helpful to demonstrate yourself first. Once they understand how it works, let them give it a try. They may need a little help getting started, but soon they should be able to pedal on their own.

5. Braking!  Stopping Without Falling

When your child is first learning to ride a bike, you will need to teach them how to stop without falling. One way to do this is by teaching them how to brake. There are two types of braking: front and rear.

Front braking is the most common type of braking. This type of braking involves using the front brake to slow down or stop the bike. Rear braking is less common, but it can be useful in certain situations. This type of braking involves using the rear brake to slow down or stop the bike.

When teaching your child how to brake, it is important to start with front braking. This will help them get a feel for how much pressure to apply to the brake lever. Once they have mastered front braking, you can then teach them rear braking.

6. Choose a safe area to learn.

When you and your child are ready to start learning how to ride a bike, choose a safe, open area like a park or playground. This will give them plenty of space to practice without having to worry about cars or other obstacles.

7. Consider the teacher.

When it comes to teaching your child how to ride a bike, nothing is more important than finding the right teacher. Vuly play has some of the best bikes for kids on the market, and our team of experts is more than happy to teach your child how to ride.

8. Check the seat height again

Once your child is on the bike, their feet should be able to touch the ground with a slight bend in their knees. If they can’t reach it, lower the seat. Conversely, if their legs are fully extended, raise them. You want them to be as comfortable as possible while still being able to pedal and maintain control of the bike.

9. Consider a bike skills course

If you want to give your kid the best chance of mastering how to ride a bike, consider enrolling them in a bike skills course. Vuly play offers bike skills courses for kids of all ages, and our experienced instructors will help your child learn the basics of riding a bike quickly and safely.

10. Safety First, and Last

It is important to remember that safety is the number one priority when teaching your child to ride a bike. Make sure they are wearing a helmet and that the area is clear of traffic before letting them go. Explain the importance of staying safe while riding and be sure to enforce these rules once they start cycling on their own.

Summary

It can be a challenge to teach your kid how to ride a bike, but following these tips can make the process easier. Make sure the bike is the right size for your child, and help them practice balancing by having them stand on the bike with both feet on the ground. When they’re ready, have them start pedalling slowly while you hold the bike steady. As they gain confidence, they can start pedalling faster and let go of the handlebars. Soon, they’ll be riding on their own.

Learn more about how great activities like riding a bike can boost the mood of your child.

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 internet 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 for online safety, 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.

Eight Great Things to Do with Kids This Summer

Safe Search

What does it take to provide a safe 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 regarding a variety of topics. Safer search is our mission at Safe Search Kids as we work to deliver these four cornerstones of online safety to parents, teachers, and students.

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