How to teach your kids about cybercrime (without scaring them)

Seventeen-million Britons were targeted by cybercrime during 2017, costing them a collective £130bn.

From phishing scams to online fraud, hacking and ransomware attacks, we’re all susceptible to cybercrime, but protecting your kids against it is inherently tricky. They’re part of a digital generation that relies on online messaging platforms, social media and the Internet to communicate with friends, learn and play.

Cyber criminals are more inclined to hunt down vulnerable targets, and young children can be more easily tricked into giving up personal data or their parents’ financial information.

Kids are curious online, but they can also be overly trusting and more naïve than adults. With that in mind, it’s vital you take steps to protect your children from cybercrime.

Here’s some practical tips:

Talk to them!

It’s important to start the conversation about cybercrime. By raising awareness of the darker side of the Internet, you’ll be committing both yourself and your children to safer online practices.

There’s no need to scare them, either. Learning about cybercrime can be fun and interactive. For example, the SafeKids Online Safety Quiz is a great way to get them thinking about cybercrime without putting them off using the Internet entirely.

Work together on their online identity

It’s important when choosing usernames and passwords for online services that you don’t use information that might identify you or be easy for hackers to guess.

Teach your kids about the importance of complex passwords by working together to create theirs. Go for passwords of at least eight characters in length that include numbers, letters (both upper and lower case) and symbols.

Finding appropriate and non-identifying usernames can be made fun, too, by playing word games to see who can come up with the most inventive.

Teach them the basic techy stuff

Kids love to learn, and you can use this to your advantage when teaching them about online safety.

If you come across a potentially malicious website or email during your own time online, show them what made you suspicious (providing the content is appropriate, of course).

It’s also important to show them some of the techy elements of the web that help raise awareness about online safety. For instance, looking for ‘https’ at the beginning of web addresses (the ‘s’ stands for ‘secure’ and means all traffic between the web browser and and website is protected to industry standard) and the presence of the padlock symbol are important skills in the digital age.

Discuss what should and shouldn’t be shared

We live in a sharing culture, and your children will be inclined to share stuff far and wide if they think it’s interesting, funny or likely to impress their peers.

Unfortunately, that means the wrong type of information and images often get shared. This is why it’s important to talk to your children about what they can and can’t share.

Your address, telephone numbers and certain types of photography (family photos and those that provide an insight into your home security, for instance) should be kept at bay, but there’s no harm in them sharing content they find which is harmless or educational.

Bonus tip: Try using a child-safe browser

Modern web browsers are packed full of clever technology that enables parents to tightly lock down the ability for their children to access unsavoury content and protect themselves from online crime.

Despite this, it might be easier to check out some of the child-safe browsers. These have such security built-in and turned on by default, and that means you’ll spend less time working out how to configure the browsers you use.

The Spruce has a great list of safe web browsers for kids, and if your children use an iPad to navigate the web, there’s a good list of similar apps for that device, too.

Need help?

The team at Voice have a wealth of experience in helping parents deal with cybercrime. If you’ve been affected by cybercrime, lean on our free, confidential advice. Contact us to find out more.

For further information on how to protect your children online, why not get involved in Safer Internet Day 2018?