Summer Cyber-Secure Challenge: Online Safety for Family

In part 3 of our Summer Cyber-Secure challenge, we focus on personal safety for our family members. If you’ve completed the previous challenge, you’ve already limited those in your social circles to people you know well or trust with the information you share. Now it’s time to get two groups on board with online safety: kids and aging parents.


Information to Keep Private

Kids are getting on the internet unsupervised (typically through a smartphone) at younger and younger ages. Take some time to discuss with them things they should NOT share anywhere online such as:

  1. Name of their school
  2. Home address
  3. Full name
  4. Phone number
  5. Email address
  6. Other information that could be used to find out their physical location (like where they play sports)

Settings That Reveal Too Much: Some apps may automatically include data that could reveal the user’s location such as geotagging. Turn this setting off if possible so your child cannot be tracked online.

Scams Through Online Video Games: If your kids don’t play Fortnite, chances are they know someone who does. Scammers are looking to victimize kids by purporting to offer free or discounted “V-Bucks” (electronic currency used in the game). This scam can be very tempting to young gamers!

Photos: If your child is taking pictures and sharing them online, set boundaries on types of pictures they can take and share. For example, remind them to NEVER take nude/intimate pictures of themselves or others. Let them know that not everyone wants their picture taken, so they should ask permission before taking or posting pictures of others (kids and adults).


Here are some videos from NetSmartz we recommend sharing with your kids based on their age:


Connecting With New Friends – Before installing new apps, check with an adult who can help you with the privacy settings.

Netsmartz Generation – What to do when asked for your personal information.

Middle & High School

Post-to-be-Private – Only friend people you know in real life

Friend or Fake – Online romances may not be real

Sextortion PSA – Extortion over intimate photos

Discuss Online Safety With Family

Aging Parents

Aging adults are a ripe target for scams because people age 50 & up hold the majority (83%) of the wealth in the U.S. One study cited in the article suggests that older people lose around $2.6 billion dollars each year due to fraud. Scientists are studying age-related financial vulnerabilities to try to pinpoint why seniors seem to be particularly more susceptible to scams, whether they start online or through a phone call.

Some common scams include:

Lottery winnings alert: Victims are told that they’ve won some type of monetary prize, but in order to collect they must send a small fee first. Of course, there is no prize and the victim has lost the “fee.”

Medicare scams: Since most Americans over 65 use Medicare as healthcare, scammers pose as Medicare representatives to steal victims’ sensitive and personal information.

Grandparent scams: This phone scam starts with the scammer calling an elderly person saying, “Hi Grandma/Grandpa, do you know who this is?” At this point, the victim may start guessing his/her grandchildren’s names, believing their grandchild is on the other end of the line. Once the false relationship is established, the scammer asks for money, at the same time begging the victim not to tell “Mom/Dad.”

See the full list of the National Council on Aging’s Top 10 Senior Financial Scams here. If you have aging parents, talk with them about these dangers. Understand that these vulnerabilities come down to a lack of social support; when friends and family members are looking out for the elderly, they can help prevent a disaster.

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