At Salesforce, we’re all about relationships. Because we know that businesses succeed when they create meaningful connections. But we also take that belief in relationships past just doing business — to create positive change for our communities, the planet, and society as a whole. Because good relationships, built on trust and respect, will help us face the future, come what may.
A major part of that future? Kids! And they’re going through a lot these days, what with a global health crisis that has led to education going online, in-person socialization all but disappearing, and TikTok dances becoming the latest rabbit hole. But even before the pandemic, it seemed like kids were always online.
And that means their personal data is right there with them. But protecting our kids, their data, and ultimately, their well-being, doesn’t have to be complicated.
This is where those trusted relationships come in handy! Because no security settings will ever be able to replace good ol’ common sense and conversation. That’s right, talking with your kids and opening up a mutually respectful conversation about good online behavior, what they can share (and with whom), and what to do if they encounter something problematic is a great starting point.
We all need to own our role in protecting information, systems, and devices, and as parents, that role means helping the youth nail the basics of cybersecurity in a way that’s transparent and relatable.
Here’s some things to talk about with the little ones:
- Cybersecurity concepts and online threats can be a bit abstract even for adults, so try using an analogy with kids to help them understand. For instance, giving someone your online password might be like giving someone a house key, or even just leaving your front door unlocked!
- Show and tell is also a helpful way to build mutual understanding. Have your kids show you what apps they’re using, and how they work. Not only will you establish open communication, but you’ll keep up with all the latest trends, too!
- Talk to them about sharing personal information online, what’s harmless, and what might be a bit more risky. One good rule of thumb: If you wouldn’t share it with a stranger (their location, contact info, school, photos, etc.) then you probably shouldn’t share it on the web.
- Teach them that what goes on the internet stays on the internet — forever! No matter what age we are, it’s a good idea to keep this in mind before posting anything.
- Be their friend! Having your kid add you as their first friend on any social media platform can help you keep an eye out for red flags like cyberbullying and online predators.
- Determine what can be purchased, and by whom, including in-game purchases.
- Teach your kids how to report problems like creepy content or bullying (also, learn how to report phishing or other scams in Gmail, Outlook, AOL, iCloud and Yahoo) and know who they’re talking to. Are they really “friends”? If not, there’s always “block”!
And last but not least, consider how you use your own devices around children. Whether that’s putting the phone down during conversations, not texting while driving, or limiting your own screen time, leading by example can go a long way toward building trust!
- We shouldn’t have to say this, but use strong passwords! There are apps to help you create unique ones and store them so you don’t have to write them down or try to remember them all (we know, there are a lot).
- If it’s available, use multi-factor authentication. What’s that? MFA requires you to validate your identity with two or more forms of evidence — or factors — when you log in. One factor is something you know, such as your username and password combination. Other factors are verification methods that you have in your possession. While there’s a risk that a password may be compromised, it’s highly unlikely that a bad actor can also gain access to your additional verification methods.
- Update, update, update! Yes, it can be a little bothersome to constantly update your devices and software, but it’s the easiest way for providers to apply security patches that will keep you safe in the long run. Have patches run in the background or make sure to update your software as soon as you see a notification. We see you, cereal snoozers!
- Use trusted networks whenever possible, rather than free, public WiFi hotspots that can put you at risk. And don’t access highly sensitive info (like your bank accounts!) via an unprotected network. If you have access to a VPN or your own personal hotspot, those are great alternatives!
- When in doubt, throw it out! If you’re not sure where something came from — or where it’s going once you click — then it’s safer not to do so. Always check the sender, report spam, and unsubscribe from email lists that you don’t really need.
The more we think about what we post online, and how we interact with our plethora of devices, the safer we’ll all be. To learn more about how to protect yourself and your family while staying connected, explore the National Cybersecurity Alliance’s resources.
And if you’re really passionate about it? Explore our Cybersecurity Learning Hub to skill up on the latest security knowledge for organizations and individuals. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll join our team!