By Rhys Jordan

Cybersecurity sounds like a big, intimidating word, especially for children who are hearing the term for the first time. But regardless of their age, it’s a topic that they need to understand for their safety. In fact, the World Economic Forum warns that children are the favorite target of hackers because they’re the ones with the easiest access to apps with only little knowledge about the dangers of using them. For example, a hacker would target a child’s phone to steal their parents’ information, know their location, or access their computer or smartphone’s camera.

This is why parents must be able to make cybersecurity easy to understand for their kids.

What is cybersecurity?

Simply put, cybersecurity is everything that is directly related to a person’s protection online. You can tell your child to think of it as the police who are tasked to defend a bank from being robbed. Except, in this case, the “police” are cybersecurity tools like anti-virus software and the “bank” is their device.

For your children aged 3-7, read them the free Savvy Cyber Kids book series here, where they will learn about computing devices, security, privacy, bully response, and screen time balance!

How can hackers enter a device?

Malware can come from any place, including social media, YouTube, and even games. For example, is your child a fan of Fortnite? A post on Fortnite by HP explains that the game’s fans could be putting themselves at risk by accidentally clicking virus-filled links in YouTube descriptions or downloading a fake Fortnite app for their phone. It’s a multiplayer game too, so Fortnite can introduce them to a lot of strangers online, all of whom they shouldn’t trust unless they are friends. The same goes for other games you might play like Minecraft and Overwatch. You must make your kids aware of the dangers and how their gaming habits open them up to hackers.

Meanwhile, in our post Think Your Password Is A Secret? Think Again, we noted how passwords could be some of the weakest protections on the internet, especially if you use easy-to-guess combinations like birthdays or the name of a pet. Another danger sign are the websites that suspiciously ask for names, age, and other personal information that they can use to generate these “generic” passwords. Think twice before you provide your personal details or any other sensitive information to an unknown site.

How Kids can protect themselves online?

Fortunately, although there are a lot of ways to attack a device, there are also a number of ways kids can protect themselves. We mentioned one of them earlier: anti-virus software. A report on Yahoo emphasizes that this will be the last protection in case something suspicious does enter your device. Explain to your children how anti-virus can act like a guard dog and find the hidden virus.

However, you shouldn’t be relying on the anti-virus all the time to protect your kids. You have to teach them how to protect themselves too. For example, with the issue of passwords above, make sure that they are not using any familiar terms. You can help them use password generators online to create combinations. As a parent it is best to know these passwords as well.

As for other online dangers, you must teach them to be careful. For instance, explain to them that they shouldn’t click weird links, random ads, and to get a parent to double-check all the apps and games that they want to download. An easy way for you to check is to take a look at its creator. Even hackers aren’t bold enough to use a real game company’s name unless they want to be sent to jail.

Threats appear every day, which makes cybersecurity more important than ever. It can be challenging to keep track of all the dangers, but so long as your child is taught the basics in a clear way, by starting con continuing the tech talk at home, they have a greater chance of not falling for tricks hackers use.

Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents, to teachers and students. Sign up for our free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics. See more cyber safety and cyber ethics blogs produced exclusively for EarthLink. Looking for a social media parental control? Try a 30-day free trial of Bark. If you sign up after your trial, Bark donates 25% of your monthly fee to Savvy Cyber Kids.

Thank you to the Savvy Cyber Kid’s sponsors!

Interested in becoming a Savvy Cyber Kids sponsor? Email Ben Halpert.