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Children present additional challenges to remaining secure and safe online, and normal safeguards and security practices might not be sufficient. Consider their innocence, curiosity, desire for independence and fear of punishment when determining how to keep your child and data safe. You may think there is no harm in your child playing a game or typing up a homework assignment but what if, when saving their assignment, they accidentally delete a program file, or visit a malicious site that infects your computer with a virus? Mistakes are likely but children may not realize what's going on or may not want to tell you in fear of getting in trouble. 

The anonymity of the internet is also a significant threat to children because it's easy for people to misrepresent themselves or trick others. Children are often more trusting in nature, making them easier targets. Another growing concern online is cyberbullying. These threats are greater if the child has access to email, instant messaging, chat rooms or social networking sites. 

What Can You Do?

Be Involved
Think of activities you can work on together, like playing a game or researching your next vacation spot. This allows you the ability to supervise your child's online activity while teaching them safe computer habits. 

Keep the computer in an open area 
When your computer is in a high traffic area, you'll easily be able to monitor your child's activity and intervene when they're doing something they're not allowed to do. 

Set boundaries and warn about dangers 
These boundaries should be appropriate for your child's age, knowledge and maturity and should include rules for how long they can be online, what sites they can visit, and what programs and tasks they're allowed to do. You should also talk to your children about the dangers of the internet, so they understand suspicious behavior. Talk about what information is appropriate to share online and who they should communicate with online. 

Monitor computer activity 
Stay in the loop with what your child is doing online, including who they are communicating with and what sites they are visiting. If they are using instant messaging, email or social media, try to understand who they are talking to and whether they actually know them. 

Keep lines of communication open 
Let your child know they can approach you with any questions or concerns about what they've encountered online.

Consider separate accounts 
Most systems allow you the option to create separate accounts for each user, and decrease the access and number of privileges children have. If you aren't able to have separate accounts, pay close attention to your security settings, don't allow your browser to remember passwords and keep your virus definitions updated. 

Consider implementing parental control 
Your internet browser might enable you to set parental controls. Contact your internet provider to see if these services are available. 

By taking these simple steps, you can reduce security risks significantly and protect your children online. Read the full article or get more helpful resources on keeping your children safe online below. 

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Cindy Moyle

Cindy is a Senior Vice President /Information Technology and Operations Director for Heartland Bank. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Outside of the bank, Cindy enjoys spending time with her family and going to garage sales and flea markets.

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