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It’s important your child understands how to keep their internet access secure. Their password is the first line of defense your child has on the Web. We know that there are hackers out there trying to gain access to our computers and networks but to our children that seems a vague and distant threat.

In fact it is only part of the problem, as some studies show up to one third of children between the ages of 14 and 18 share their passwords or access codes so it can be that your child shares his or her password with a friend without realizing the consequences.

How can you avoid this happening? In fact there are several steps you can take:

The first is to  walk the walk, and not ask them to share passwords with you, or other members of the family.

The second is talk to them about the risks of sharing their internet access with friends. You can talk about what could happen if a friend gets access to any of their accounts:

  • messages are sent on twitter in their name
  • SMS’s are sent in their name
  • Games they play online are accessed and their credits are used up.

Finally you can help them set up a safe password system and build in a password change at regular intervals.

Once you have opened up the subject, it is easy to go onto the wider dangers of hackers and how that can put the rest of the family and household network at risk. A hacker can access to your e-mail, your bank accounts, your research, your contact lists or anything else you may have on your computer. Some of consequences are that hackers:

  • use your contact list to spam your contacts
  • allow a virus or worm into the network
  • create a zombie network which can be used to attack an organization and create a “denial of service” situation
  • your mobile phone account can be charged for scam SMS’s.

Engage your children and teach them to be internet vigilant as well as internet savvy. Ask for their help to keep the whole family’s internet activities safe.