Teaching Your Kids About Phishing & Online Scams

I recently mentioned some of the things to help you spot a phishing message. These tips are great, if I do say so myself, however, they are definitely more for adults than kids. Our children receive VERY different phishing attacks, and it’s our responsibility to teach our kids about phishing and scams with these key steps.

I always talk about the importance of having frequent conversations about technology with your children. Teaching your kids about phishing is just one of the many topics you should chat about. Other topics include avoiding pornography, your rules about technology and how you monitor their devices and more.

If your children are really young, you can have a whole phishing demonstration to explain the practice. You could play the Let’s Go Fishing game and then explain that as you drop your line or “bait” you just need to wait for one of the fish to BITE and then you can capture them.

Older children likely don’t need the cartoony demonstration, but you should definitely explain exactly what phishing is before proceeding. The simplest explanation you can use is that some people will try to get their information by pretending to be something or someone they are not. They will then use the information to steal data or even money.

Here are some of the signs to tell your kids to watch out for

They are offering something for free

As common as it is for phishing attacks to be urgent or an emergency for adults, it is just as common for kids to be told they will get something for free. Whether it is Fortnite v-bucks or Robux in Roblox, kids are always looking for ways to earn more in-game cash!

The attackers will usually let the kids know through the chat system that they have in-game money to give away for FREEEE. They only need the child to give them their username and password so they can transfer the money to their account.

Make sure your kids understand that this is 100% a scam. No one is going to give them something for nothing. I know a lot of kids who have had their entire account taken over and they have lost all of their progress, accessories and more. It’s really sad for the kids to learn this lesson this way.

They ask personal questions

While this isn’t necessarily phishing in the sense that adults are used to, but it is definitely phishing for information. Kids don’t understand how telling a stranger what school they go to “so they can see if they go to the same school” could be a bad thing.

Kids need to understand that not everyone is who they say they are on the internet. If they want to know if someone online is someone from their school, they need to ask their friend at school for their gamer ID. Tell your children to NEVER say their name, city, school, age, or other identifiable items online. Even if they are actually talking to someone they know. There could be others in the game that are just listening.

They pretend to be someone else

This one goes along with the previous tip, but there are slight differences. It can be easy for a kid to avoid speaking to strangers online, but what if they think they are talking to a friend or someone they trust.

This falls more under the “catfishing” arena, but it’s definitely a concern that kids need to be looking out for. There is a terrifying story about a kid who thought she was talking to a friend. The girl was into the same things she liked such as volleyball and more. Eventually, this “friend” got her to take an inappropriate picture of herself, and then the predator revealed himself and started blackmailing the girl.

This is obviously a worst-case scenario, but it’s an important story for kids to know and understand. People can be anyone else behind a screen. Let your kids know that they should confirm with their friends or family offline if it is really them they are talking to inside the app they are using (like Instagram).

Teaching your kids about phishing tactics that online attackers and predators use is super important to help them understand a little more about how the internet works.

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About the author

Sarah Werle Kimmel

Sarah Werle Kimmel is a digital parenting coach and family tech expert. She has spent the last 20 years of her career working as a Microsoft Certified IT Manager supporting over 100 small businesses. During that time she started Family Tech LLC to help families understand and manage the technology in their home. She has regularly appeared as a family tech expert on local NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX news affiliates, BYUtv and Studio 5, and has been invited all over the world from tech companies like Lenovo, Verizon, Microsoft, Dell, and Samsung. Find out more on her website SarahKimmel.com

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