The internet gives us access to an almost limitless amount of information and helps us communicate with friends and family around the world. But it requires vigilance to stay safe. Here are some online safety tips for you and your family, from Telus Wise, a digital literacy program that has been sharing free online safety resources for the past decade.
With risks of cyberbullying, predators and scammers, young children should only be online with a supervising adult. Not to be replaced by conversations about digital citizenship and safety, a quick win for parents is to use parental controls to help prevent kids from accessing inappropriate sites.
Many experts also suggest limiting the amount of screen time your children have so they participate in more physical and social activities. Storing a device away or programming it to shut down after a set period of time can help.
You should also talk to your tweens and teens about the potential dangers they may face online, including people who pretend to be someone they are not. Remind youth that they can say no and should talk to you if something happens online that makes them feel uncomfortable.
We need passwords for virtually everything online, from reading content on news websites to accessing our bank accounts. It can be tempting to reuse the same password across multiple accounts, but that leaves you vulnerable to hacking. Instead, enlist the help of password management applications that can securely generate and store passwords for you. Features such as two-factor authentication are a great additional level of security over and above a strong password.
Also be wary of “news” that friends or family share with you via social media or email. Stay cautious of headlines that sound outlandish. If you are unsure, check if the story is covered by a reputable news source you trust. You can also use fact-checking websites to confirm or debunk things you see online.
With Canadians aged 65 and older being the fastest growing group of internet users, it’s important to be aware of scams that specifically target this age group.
One common ruse, known as the grandparent scam, involves someone calling, texting or emailing pretending to be a grandchild in distress, saying their car has broken down or they’ve been arrested and need money for bail. Others include messages asking grandparents to enter their bank card number and passwords on a fraudulent site.
These scams can be easier to spot if you know what you’re looking for: the email address isn’t from the company it claims to be, the message isn’t addressed specifically to the recipient or there’s a threat or urgency involved. Teach elders who aren’t as tech savvy to be wary of suspicious messages, to never give out personal information unexpectedly and to contact the person or business directly by phone if in doubt. And never send money – once it’s sent, it’s hard to get back.
Find more information to keep your whole family safe online at telus.com/wise