Focus on Internet Safety This June
With kids out of school for the summer, it’s easy for parents and kids to shift their focus from education to fun. Parents want to make sure their kids are having fun and staying safe at the same time, and this should apply to all activities, from riding bikes to swimming to being online. Summer means kids will have more free time, which may mean more time on the computer. June is National Internet Safety Month, a time to reflect on our current online behavior and commit to being more responsible and safe online.
This June, the Stop.Think.Connect. Campaign encourages parents and educators to start an Internet safety dialogue with their children and students. Topics can include:
Parents can take steps to ensure that the Internet is safer for their kids by setting up appropriate firewalls and safe searches and monitoring their kids’ Internet use. For more resources on how help your kids practice online safety, review Stop.Think.Connect.’s Resources for Parents and Educators, which includes a booklet on how to chat with your kids about being online.
Cybersecurity and Older Americans
Older Americans are online more than ever before. According to May 2013 testimony by Federal Trade Commission Acting Director Charles Harwood the “number of adults over 65 who use the Internet is increasing rapidly”. The Internet provides older Americans the opportunity to stay connected with their community, friends and loved ones, shop, plan travel, and manage their finances. With these opportunities, however, come risks, especially as cyber criminals take advantage of older Americans’ lack of familiarity with technology to access to their personal information, especially for financial gain. For example, criminals are using the Affordable Care Act to take advantage of seniors, getting access to their personal and medical information for purposes of identity theft and collecting payments for fraudulent insurance plans.
Older Americans should take special care when conducting the following activities online:
Connecting with friends and family. Only add people who you know on social media (e.g., Facebook) and programs like Skype. Adding strangers can expose you and your personal information to scammers. Do not include a lot of personal information about yourself on websites, even if the site requests it. For example, do not share your address or telephone number.
Getting medical advice and information. Many pharmaceutical companies create websites with information to sell their products. Look for sites ending in .edu (for education) or .gov (for government) for accurate guidance. Also, be on the lookout for websites claiming to sell legitimate prescription drugs at much lower prices.
Banking. Do not access your bank accounts from a public computer or through an unsecured wireless network. Do not reveal your personal information, such as social security number, bank account number, or date of birth, to unknown sources. When paying a bill online or making an online donation, be sure that you type the website address into your browser instead of clicking on a link or cutting and pasting it from an email.
Online shopping. Make sure you only shop on websites that start with “https” – the ‘s’ means that the website is secure. Look for the padlock icon at the bottom of your browser, which indicates that the site uses encryption to protect your personal information, such as your credit card number. Type new website URLs directly in the address bar instead of clicking on links or cutting and pasting them from emails.
Older Americans can benefit from following these general online safety tips from the Stop.Think.Connect.™ Campaign:
Visit http://www.dhs.gov/publication/stopthinkconnect-older-american-resources for more resources on how older Americans can protect themselves online.