Two groups are surging in Internet use – children and the elderly.

In the last ten years, Internet use by seniors has increased by 92 percent. Today, 73 percent of seniors (who make up 14 percent of the US population) use the Internet. Just 20 years ago, only 14 percent of those adults were using the Internet. Plus, the number of seniors using smartphones has doubled since 2013 to 40 percent. It’s now more important than ever to discuss Internet safety with both our kids and the seniors in our lives.

In recent years, senior adults are coming on board exponentially, but children are being raised on the Internet, as well as using smartphones and connected devices.

Consider the fact that home Internet usage increases with age. Around 41 percent of children ages 3 to 5 use the Internet, compared with 57 percent of 6- to 11-year-olds and 71 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds. Compared to seniors, the number of children using the Internet has grown by 20 percent over the last decade.

For cybersecurity experts – and moms, dads, and adult children – there is a growing concern that Internet safety and cyber risk education should be infused alongside Internet use. No matter what age, if you’re online, these Internet safety tips can help protect your children, your parents, and yourself. You should understand key concepts on how to protect yourself, your identity, and your offline technology.

Here are some topics and tips to help you explain Internet safety to the kids and the seniors in your life.

Cybersecurity Topics and Internet Safety Tips for Children:

  • Don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in real life. For example, you wouldn’t talk to a stranger, so you shouldn’t accept a friend request from or communicate with a stranger online.
  • If your child needs an email account, create it for them, and monitor their messages (with their knowledge, of course).
  • Ensure that online browsing is carried out in common areas of your home where you can see your child’s online activity. ·
  • Encourage kid-friendly search engines like KidRex, Safe Search for Kids, and Kiddle.
  • Encourage your kids to not click on something (like ads) from a page that they are viewing and always to close that page and go back to their search engine to find a new page.
  • Block pop-ups and disable Java in any browser settings.
  • Ensure privacy settings are appropriate for the devices they use.
  • They should not install any apps without checking with a parent.
  • See our last article on protecting your child from identity theft.
mother and young daughter looking at ipad

Cybersecurity Topics and Internet Safety Tips for Seniors:

Many seniors have no concept of cyber risk. They don’t realize that criminals are attempting to steal their personal or financial information online, as well as hack into their computers.

  • Confirm that they realize that the Internet is not safe and that using it has risk, but it is a risk that can be managed.
  • They should only open emails from people or companies that they know. Ensure that the sender is who they say they are by double-checking some information. If there is a “Name” listed but no email address, try hovering over it or right-clicking on it to see what the email address is. Other fields to check are mailed-by, signed-by. In Gmail, one can click on the downward arrow next to the “to” field. If the “from” and the other information don’t match or look suspicious, ask them not to open or to hold on to it until you can look at it.
  • They can double-check website links by determining if the link URL is legitimate. Just hover over the link, and it will show the web address where it leads.
  • Ensure that they have appropriate anti-virus software installed and that it’s working correctly.
  • They should be aware of news if a well-known company – like bank, health plan – have had a data breach and to talk to the company, or you, if they learn that they could be affected.
  • Again, encourage your parents to not click on something (like ads) from a page that they are viewing and always to close that page and go back to their search engine to find a new page.
  • Block pop-ups and disable Java in any browser settings.
  • Ensure privacy settings are appropriate for the devices they use.
  • Websites that do not have a security certificate are potentially unsafe and should be avoided. Tell them to look for HTTPS at the start of the web address in their browser address bar.
  • Teach them how to create strong passwords for all of their accounts.
  • Ask them to make sure to log out of any website or app that they are using each time they are done using it.
  • They should be cautious when clicking on links that could download anything. Share with them how to tell that a link is connected to downloadable material.

We all know that there is no guaranteed protection; however, the risks are hidden and everywhere. As professionals in the cybersecurity industry, you are in a unique position to ensure your children and parents have the right Internet safety skills and knowledge to heighten their awareness and safety.

The Department of Homeland Security has an excellent website for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM) that offers tips sheets on phishing, your digital home, traveling tips, and social media.

Educating your employees about their role in risk and protection is also critical. CyLumena offers a variety of services to ensure that your employees are the most reliable barrier to threats rather than an unwitting contributor.

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