For many Americans, online access has become a lifeline – to church, classes, family and friends – during the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools have moved online, creating a digital environment of learning. But without safeguards, our children can be left exposed to predators.
Protecting their personal information and safety must remain a priority.
“It’s always good to take proactive steps to stay safe online,” said Don White, head of Corporate Security at Regions. “It’s especially important now. With our students spending so much time online during the pandemic, we need to make sure they have the tools and knowledge to keep bad actors away.”
For parents, sharing these tips can help keep your loved ones safe, while protecting their personal information:
- Know who you are talking to. Keep your online profile private, and only share with actual friends. Never talk to strangers online.
- Be extremely cautious with photos you share. Don’t share anything you wouldn’t want seen by everybody. Remember, when it goes online, it can be permanent.
- Limit your personal information, including your full name, address, school, phone number and passwords.
- Avoid online quizzes. They may seem harmless – and even fun. But it’s an easy way to gather personal information you don’t need to share.
- Before you download a new app, verify it. There are plenty of third-party reviews to tell if an app is legitimate.
- Install tools to block malware and ads, and set up your browser to reject unsecure connections.
- Don’t agree to meet someone in-person who you don’t already know.
- If you feel something’s wrong, alert your parents or a trusted adult.
“As much as technology helps us, it also leaves us more vulnerable,” said Jeff Taylor, head of Commercial Fraud Forensics for Regions. “Monitor online activity and have frank discussions about the risks associated. Chances are your child will already be aware, and the reinforcement will help them make good decisions.”
For more information: Online Security from the Department of Homeland Security