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Internet Safety Tips to Navigate the Web More Securely

Monday, June 10, 2024

June is Internet Safety Month. Photo shows teenage girl distressed by what she's viewing on her smartphone.With so much of daily life tied to devices and the internet, online safety needs to be a priority for young and old. Children and teenagers can be exposed to dangers such as cyberbullying and sexual exploitation, while adults are often targets of investment fraud and tech support scams.

During Internet Safety Month, NewBridge Services is providing internet safety tips and information. “Everyone needs to learn what risks there are in cyberspace, and parents must educate kids about online safety and keep tabs on the websites and apps their children are using,” NewBridge Services CEO Michelle Borden said.

Internet safety information is critical, especially for adolescents because they are online so frequently. Consider that 71% of 12-year-olds had their own smartphone in 2021, and a 2023 survey by the Pew Research Center found that more than 9-in10 teens reported using the internet daily. Nearly half of teens said they use the internet “almost constantly.” 

What is The Most Common Internet Threat for All Ages?

Phishing, in which scam artists pose as legitimate entities via emails, texts and pop-ups to request an individual’s personal, financial and/or log-in information, is the most common internet scheme. Last year, the FBI received nearly 300,000 complaints of phishing. However, it is not the most costly internet crime. Investment fraud cost victims a whopping $4.57 billion last year, according to the FBI 2023 Internet Crime Report. More than 880,000 internet crime complaints were registered with the agency, 10% more than in 2022.

Online Safety for Teens

For children, especially adolescents, cyberbullying is a serious threat. According to a 2022 survey by the Pew Research Center, 46% of teens ages 13 to 17 reported experiencing cyberbullying. Name-calling was the most common form, but having false rumors spread about them happened to 22%, and 17% received unsolicited explicit images.

A growing concern is online enticement of children and adolescents, also known as sexual exploitation. Predators may pose as a peer, aiming to build trust with their victim. Sextortion, in which an offender dupes a minor into sending a sexually explicit image or video of themselves, is on the rise. The culprit threatens to release the images unless the victim sends more compromising images, or may seek payment from the victim to withhold the material. Investigations by the FBI and Homeland Security identified at least 12,600 victims of online financial extortion between October 2021 and March 2023. The majority of sextortion victims are boys ages 14 to 17. The shame of the experience has led to victims committing suicide, the FBI noted.

Educate Kids About Online Safety

NewBridge Services offers parents internet safety tips to protect family members.

  • Talk to your children about why internet safety is important.
  • Establish house rules about the use of devices and make sure your kids understand them. Then enforce them.
  • Take advantage of parental controls on devices to prevent your child from reaching inappropriate websites.
  • Talk regularly with your kids about how important it is NOT to share personal information online, and to consider others’ privacy before sharing photos and videos.
  • Show your children examples of phishing messages you receive so they understand what to be on the lookout for.
  • Know what online games your children are using to ensure they are age-appropriate.
  • Have your children use child-friendly search engines that screen results.
  • Limit how much time your child can spend on computers, tablets and smartphones.
  • Remind your kids that social media posts exist for all time so they need to be prudent about what they share.
  • Keep bedrooms device-free. 
  • Have children use the computer in a common area of the house so you can keep tabs on what sites they visit.
  • Talk to your kids about cyberbullying, so they are neither victims nor perpetrators.
  • Model good behavior with your online activities. Kids are paying attention!

NewBridge also offers individual and family counseling, including parent skills training. Contact NewBridge at services@newbridge.org or (973) 316-9333 for more information. NewBridge has offline advice to keep teens safe this summer here.

How Can You be Safe on the Internet? Online Safety Tips for Everyone:

  • Never share your password
  • Limit personal information online
  • Backup data regularly
  • Create complex passwords
  • Update your devices operating system and antivirus software regularly
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links
  • Monitor your credit reports
  • Keep sensitive data offline

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