News and Events
Internet Safety: The Midco Study Guide
Class is in session, and everyone is here. So, take a seat and let’s start today’s topic: Internet safety.
You may think your family and home network are protected. But with the ever-changing world wide web, it’s important to keep internet safety top of mind. Our study guide is here with tips you can use to ensure all members of your household remain on the internet-safety honor roll.
- There are several things parents can do to make their home and devices a safe space for kids.
- Start talking to your kids early about internet safety.
- Create rules around the internet and education your school-aged children about them.
- Teach kids the ins and outs of social media safety.
- Show your teenagers the importance for security when it comes to their identity.
Getting started: Take inventory.
Alright, class, open your computer or tablet. It’s time to make a list. Think about all the different electronics and internet-connected devices you have in your home.
There’s the obvious, like your computers, tablets, phones and gaming consoles. As well as the items you need to connect to the internet, such as your modem or router. But then, let’s not forget any TVs or smart home devices. That includes home monitoring, security cameras, speakers, smart door locks, thermostats, cameras and even robot vacuums – to name a few.
So, so many items. And all potential cybersecurity risks if the proper protections are not in place. Stay calm! Thankfully, there are many simple things you can do to protect your home, network and smart devices from cyberattacks. Phew.
Parent to dos: Make a safe space.
Before we jump into preparing your kids for the digital work, we need to prep your home, devices and network.
- Smart devices: Are you buying a quality product? Does the company value security? These questions should be considered when purchasing a smart device. Triple check each device is properly configured with its security features enabled.
But don’t rely on this alone. Turn any device you aren’t using off to keep them from accessing your network unnecessarily. And have strong passwords or two-step verification in place when applicable.
- Software updates: It’s important to regularly update your devices. Companies are always adding security measures to help protect you and your device. This can be a chore, so consider setting a calendar reminder or turning on automatic updates.
- Antivirus software: The old “My dog ate my homework.” excuse may make us laugh when we imagine our kid saying that to their teacher. But what about “Malware destroyed the computer my homework was stored on.” This is a very real threat without the proper antivirus software.
- Spam filters: Set them. For your security and mental health. In addition to being annoying, spam is a huge security threat. Help your kids avoid opening spam accidentally with strong spam filters.
- Modems and routers: How old is your modem or router? If you cannot remember, it may be time to consider an upgrade. We recommend a modem that supports DOCSIS 3.1 (or higher). This ensures faster speeds, a more reliable connection and better security.
For routers, the younger the better. Experts recommend you replace your router at least every five years. Why? Old modems and routers can have outdated security or security flaws making them vulnerable to hackers and malware (any program or file trying to damage your device, network or server).
Any identifiable information makes it easier for hackers to infiltrate your network, so keep personal information secret, even on your router. You can protect your router by:
- Changing the default name before you install or use it
- Keeping the manufacturer private
- Giving it a unique code name that is not associated with any personal information, such as your address
Do you have A+ connectivity?
Midco Wi-Fi connects your home network and devices to advanced AI software for better connectivity and added protection. From the palm of your hand, the Wi-Fi app lets you track online activity, set parental controls and more.
Preschool and up: Begin with the basics.
For very young kids, you’re going to do most of the work before you hand them the device.
That doesn’t mean instilling good digital habits cannot start early. Just like bodily autonomy, road and car safety, or stranger danger, you can create an environment that supports internet safety.
It is important to answer their questions and explain why you have passwords when helping them sign into a device or app. Use this as an opportunity to normalize internet safety.
It’s elementary (school), my dear Watson!
It’s important for school-aged children to know what the rules are and why they are important.
- Set a passcode or face identification to unlock each device.
- Create strong passwords for your network and devices. Change them often.
- Check what information an app is asking for before downloading it. If the child is young, add additional steps, such as a password or PIN, to avoid unwanted purchases and prevent personal information from being shared.
- Create rules about giving out your network password to family, friends and visitors. You can also create guest network passwords to protect your main home network with Midco Wi-Fi.
- Set rules per child about if they need permission to download apps, images, attachments and other content.
- Talk openly – always – about internet safety. This includes cyberbullying, identity theft, opening emails, messages from strangers, fake messages and how to identify them, and the importance of protecting personal information.
Blocking ads: It’s easier than ever for kids to click on an ad. It’s not just about protecting them from making accidental purchases, but also preventing your child from being advertised to. They are too young to have companies personalizing ads or obtaining their personal information.
Midco Wi-Fi and VPNs can activate network-wide ad blocks. With Midco Wi-Fi, you can also activate blocks by user or device. The feature blocks all known advertising servers from displaying web and video advertisements.
Read more about Midco Wi-Fi parental controls >
Set content limits: As kids get older, their internet usage will only go up with school and expanding social circles. That is why establishing and maintaining online safety rules is vital.
But you can also take extra steps without your kids knowing! Content access limits filter which online content is suitable. A feature of Midco Wi-Fi, it allows you to set limits by user, device or network.
Learn how content limits work with Midco Wi-Fi >
Create a crew of teacher’s pets: Hackers have gotten very sophisticated in their cyberattacks. And while many people do not think they will be a target, many cyberattacks are chosen at random.
In fact, email phishing scams are one of the most common causes of cybersecurity issues. Teach your children what to watch for:
- Strangely phrased language
- Requests to open an attachment or click a link
- Requests for account numbers, passwords or sensitive information
Middle school: Master their cybersecurity mood.
Tablets, laptops, phones – at this point, they are pros and likely have one or all of these. This is also the age when their cyber presence amps up and branches out.
You can have the safest home setup – with Midco Wi-Fi, parental controls and more – but you still can’t 100% control what happens to your kid’s device outside the home. But if you have already applied the safety measures we have listed, your child’s device will be set.
Real talk: It is a good time to reiterate challenging cyber issues. Though it can feel embarrassing, your child is at an age where they are going to be exposed to more online peer pressure. A conversation about posting inappropriate content or messages, cyberbullying and other teen issues can benefit you both.
Social media safety: Even if your child is under a social media app’s age restriction, social media platforms reign supreme for this age group. Discussing social media safety should start now.
Group project: Protecting personal information.
When it comes to privacy protection and cybersecurity, they are interconnected. What should and should not be shared online? "Less is better” is generally the best strategy.
It can seem innocent when your child posts a photo while walking their dog, but if their device has the location on, it can become a security risk.
And as more personal information is stored online, there are more opportunities for hackers to gain your – or your child’s – information. So, what can you do? Constant vigilance! That may seem dramatic, but it truly is important to educate your child on the dangers and how to avoid them:
- Set personal social media pages to private.
- Remove anyone you don’t know from your social accounts.
- Wait to post adventures from any trips until after you return home. (You don’t want to get robbed during the week you said you were out of town.)
High school: Mini adult masters.
At this point, your teenager hopefully knows as much as you do about internet safety. But with a digital-driven world, your child may want to sacrifice security for social media presence.
- Set boundaries: Most social networking sites have privacy settings that limit who can tag them in a photo, share or save content – or even search for them. Decide together what privacy settings should be in place. You can even have your teen help decide their own content limits.
- Build trust: Having them involved in the decision is a good step in building trust. And you want to have an open dialogue with your teens – especially as online ransom attacks against teens become more and more common.
- Protect devices in public: Left unattended, a device can be used to access your email, personal information, important passwords and credit card numbers. At the bare minimum, insist your child has password protection.
And if any child complains about their device’s performance, take action! This can include a web browser acting weird, windows popping up or even slow load times. It could mean the device has been compromised.
- Location settings: Many devices allow the user to decide what apps can use your location. Sit down with your teen to check location settings per app and device.
- Identity theft: Unfortunately, children and teens are susceptible to identity theft. Especially since no one is regularly checking their credit history.
An address or a birthday can be enough to apply for a credit card. Even an online quiz can be a trick to find their mother’s maiden name, birthdate or other identifiable information. You and your teen can work together to help protect their identity.
Class dismissed. Lifelong studying required.
That’s all for today, folks! Before you leave, just remember that while our internet safety tips can be a guide, you (their parent) are the one who is going to be the most instrumental in helping them grow up to be smart, confident online users.
Extra credit: Speedier internet.
Prepare for your child’s homework with faster internet. Whether they’re headed to kindergarten or college, internet speed plays a big role in productivity. Set them up for school success.