How to talk to your kids about malicious behavior online during remote learning

How to talk to your kids about malicious behavior online during remote learning
Posted at 4:13 PM, Sep 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-10 12:54:13-04

BOISE — It can happen to anyone--seniors, adults, and school-aged children can all be vulnerable to the actions of malicious users online.

"Just like adults are susceptible to malicious behavior online, so are kids," said Valerie Player, hospital educator and academic liaison for St. Luke's.

There are common ruses that many people fall victim to including ads to click and earn money or download free music. With more elementary-aged students learning online, those ruses are making them bigger targets.

Just last week, Boise School District encountered a security concern, which has since been resolved. Still, it's an important reminder.

"Even for the littles, it's 'click here, and you're going to see your favorite cartoon character,'" said Player.

Player says to remind your kids not to click on anything that isn't directly from their teacher, and that advertisements can be vulgar or a spam risk.

It's also important to explain why those attacks are bad.

"We have to teach them what is inappropriate on the internet and we have to say more than 'inappropriate' because to kids, especially school kids, inappropriate means don't talk out, or raise your hand," said Player. "They don't know that inappropriate on the internet is hate speech."

Cyber attacks aren't the only concern with young kids learning online. Excessive screen time can be harmful. Young children should have less than two hours a day on all screens.

"Here we are in this time when we're saying we have to be on screens," said Player. "I think it's very important to help children understand that right now, the screen is their work, just like mom or dad. You need some limits because you have to rest your eyes and brain, and I think it's okay to talk to kids about blue light."

It's good to talk about both concerns, blue light, and online security with your kids, and explain that they should tell an adult if anything pops up on their screen.

"The internet is the way that kids make and keep friends right now, and those social connection are really, really, important to them so I don't think we ought to take that away, we need to teach our kids how to be safe with it," said Player.

Player also says to frequently check internet history and know all your kid's passwords. It's also important to explain to kids that it's not their fault if a pop up appears; that way, they don't fear getting in trouble and make the wrong choice.