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Teens in the Age of Cyber Security

shutterstock_14571100According to a 2013 Pew Research Teens and Technology Study, 78 percent of American teens have a cellphone. And today’s teens spend more than 7.5 hours a day consuming media. The cyber world is constantly evolving. And so are the risks. Here’s four common ones:

Sharing Information Online

Teens are encouraged to share lots of personal information while they are online, that’s including time on social networks, too. Giving personal information out online can potentially lead to identity theft. It’s important to teach your teens not to share their birth date, address, phone number, Social Security number or even their full name online. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), criminals can use sensitive and personal information, taken directly from social media sites, to answer your teen’s challenge questions on their profiles and hack into their accounts. LifeLock Unlocked, an identity theft protection blog, shares information about current events and today’s cyber issues so you can keep up to date.

Connecting to Public Wi-Fi

Coffee shops, hotels, airports and public places typically have free and accessible wireless networks. However, your teens can potentially be at risk if they are connecting to a wireless network that is not secure. If your teens connect to an encrypted website, only the information they send to and from that website is protected. If the connection is secure, all of the information sent via smartphone or laptop is protected. Teach your teens how to identify unsecure Wi-Fi hotspots. Eric Escobar, a tech expert writing for the website Quick and Dirty Tips, suggests checking the address bar of the web browser. If it reads https, your teen’s data is safe.

Skipping Terms & Privacy Policies

Clicking through the terms and agreements and privacy policies online is tempting, after all who wants to read pages and pages of boring type. But that fine print might just be hiding something. It’s important for you and your teens to always carefully read through these policies, even if they are long and complex. The fine print will explain how how a website maintains access, accuracy,security and, most importantly, the collection of personal information. Facebook, for example, has been in the hot seat over the years for its methods of obtaining personal user information. But if Facebook users were to read through the terms and privacy policies that the social network giant provided, there would be no surprises.

Oversharing

Although teens have the option to have private social network profiles, nothing is really private on the Web. Teens are known to overshare, from sharing their locations to posting statuses and photos. But one thing that teens should keep in mind is that you never know who is looking at your profile. Teachers, coaches and even potential employers all have access to your teens’ social profiles. Inspire them to think about the type of impression they make with their online profile. Is it a good one? Keeping a reputation untarnished in the digital age is not easy. Just remind your teens to be mindful about what they post and comment while online.

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