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Six back-to-school cyber safety tips

The best tool you have to help avoid risks online is common sense.

By Art Ream, Chief Information Security Officer / Senior Director of Applications

What unique risks are associated with our children? When a child is using the family computer, normal safeguards and security practices may not be enough. Children present additional challenges because of their natural curiosity, desire for independence and fear of punishment. You may think that because a child is only playing a game, or researching a term paper, or typing a homework assignment, he or she can't cause any harm. But what if, when saving her paper, he/she deletes a necessary program file? Or, what if they unintentionally visit a malicious website that infects your computer with a virus? Mistakes happen, but the child may not realize what they have done or might not tell you because they are afraid of getting punished.

What can you do?

  • Be involved. Consider activities you can do on together.
  • Keep your computer in an open area. If your computer is in a high-traffic area, you will be able to easily monitor activity.
  • Set rules and warn about dangers. Make sure your child knows the boundaries of what they are allowed to do on the computer.
  • Monitor computer activity. Be aware of what your child is doing on the computer, including which websites she is visiting.
  • Keep lines of communication open. Let your child know that she can approach you with any questions or concerns about behaviors or problems she may have encountered.
  • Consider implementing parental controls. You may be able to set some parental controls within your browser.

Regardless of how fast your fingers fly on a keyboard or cell phone, the best tool you have to help avoid risks online is common sense. Stop before you post, share, or send an email. Do you trust the site? How would you feel if your information ends up somewhere you didn’t intend? Below are some resources and materials to help learn about safe cyber behavior and help your favorite student be safe.

Cambridge Health Alliance

Contributed By: Cambridge Health Alliance

Cambridge Health Alliance is an academic community health care system committed to serving all members of our communities. We have expertise in primary care, mental health and substance abuse, and caring for diverse and complex populations. CHA patients receive high quality care in convenient neighborhood locations, and have seamless access to advanced care through CHA’s affiliation with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. With over 140,000 patients in Cambridge, Somerville Everett and Boston’s Metro North, CHA is working hard to offer the integrated services its communities need now, and in the future.