Search form

Online Safety Tips for Parents

Linda McCarthy, author of Own Your Space: Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online, offers parents these 10 tips for keeping their kids safe online. Included: Provide a copy of our printable version to your students families.


To protect your teen or tween online, consider these sensible precautions, offered by Linda McCarthy, author of the book, Own Your Space: Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online (Addison-Wesley/Symantec Press $19.99 U.S.)

  1. Be sure to fill your Internet Security shopping list: antivirus software, spyware protection, firewall, and patches.
  2. About the Author

    Linda McCarthy, an architect in the office of the CTO at Symantec, has been in the security field for more than a decade, and was hired by companies to conduct penetration tests to discover system vulnerabilities and demonstrate to executives how easy it is to break into their networks. She has published seven books on computer security, and is the author of IT Security: Risking the Corporation. McCarthy also received the Woman of Influence Award in 2004 from CSO magazine and EWF for computer security, an award given annually to only four women in the world.

    Realize that MySpace isnt going away. If youre concerned, sit down together and review your teens MySpace page. Drill your teen and friends about not giving out full names, addresses, school names, or other personally identifiable information.
  3. Keep your teens PC in an open space where you can see whats going on not behind a closed bedroom door.
  4. Avoid webcams. (Teens are too often drawn to use webcams to post photos they may deeply regret in later life. Remove that temptation!)
  5. Dont be afraid to be the grownup. If youre concerned about your teen visiting inappropriate sites, install software with parental controls to block those sites. (Remember when you child-proofed your kitchen with safety latches and electronic plug guards? Especially if your child is a young teen, its OK to teenproof the Internet a bit as well.)
  6. Dont be afraid to play the cop either if you need to. If you suspect your teen is doing something wrong online, strongly consider purchasing monitoring software. If your teen is doing something inappropriate, its much better to be caught by a concerned parent than a real law enforcement officer.
  7. Dont forget to protect your own data as well. (Think of this as protecting your teens allowance or college fund!) Particularly if your teen downloads software, music, or other items, you should keep your financial details and banking information on your own computer -- not the one your teen uses.
  8. If your family shares a single computer, look into software designed to protect your financial transactions and personal information. Make sure you install that software if youre banking online or using your PC for other financial transactions such as online bill paying or shopping. I do not recommend you use the same computer to do banking as your kids use to play games and download software from the Internet.
  9. Remind your teen to think about the future. What teens post today will still be hanging around the Net years from now when theyre working on developing real careers. Stupid comments and photos today can translate into unemployment in years to come.
  10. Watch out for social engineering. Just because someone calls you on the phone and tells you he is from the FBI, it doesnt mean he really is! Verify it. Teach your teens not to give out any personal information over the phone, email, IM, and so on, that could identify their location or provide key personal information.

Click here for a printable version.

Own Your Space: Keep Yourself and Your Stuff Safe Online

Today's teens live online and have a comfort factor with technology that few adults can match. While many adults struggle with "slow connections," blissfully unaware of potential problems, odds are a teen is more likely to suspect a problem and feel competent to resolve it. What they need is a book written to help them solve common problems and use such technologies as firewalls, virus scanners, and spyware removal kits. They also need guidance and information about such illegal activities as downloading, and such potentially dangerous activities as meeting one's chat room friend in person for the first time.

This short, handy guide introduces the basic online threats teens face, as well as the tools and behaviors that can mitigate trouble. Topics addressed include nasty code (viruses, worms, trojans), nasty people (hackers, spammers, pretenders), ethical choices (downloading music and game hacks), and privacy (how to shop, understanding cookies, and encrypting e-mail). The book also covers public places like MySpace, and private blogs.

Education World®
Copyright © 2006 Education World