Cybersecurity Tips for Homeschoolers

Cybersecurity Tips for Homeschoolers

Cybersecurity Tips for Homeschoolers

Homeschooling has so many advantages, it’s hard to list them all! Direct and consistent teacher-to-student interaction, a tailored education, and better teaching materials are just a few of the many reasons so many families feel drawn to homeschooling. Overall, parents have much more control over their child’s educational experience when they homeschool. However, when it comes to cybersecurity threats and computer viruses, homeschoolers are often more vulnerable and at risk than their public school peers.


The majority of school computer labs have some form of cybersecurity software that protects students identities, keeps them off harmful websites, and protects against malware infection. With so much homeschooling curriculum being based on the web, internet safety and privacy protection is a topic that every homeschooling parent needs to address.


But awareness of this growing issue is just the first step. Communication is the next one. A recent survey shows 33% of parents who named “cyberbullying” as their biggest fear have never talked to their kids about the topic. Navigating the dangers of the internet means being honest with your kids about what’s at stake. Identities can be stolen, data can be destroyed, and cyberbullies can do serious psychological harm.


Educating your kids and engaging in an ongoing dialogue about cybersecurity is one of the most effective things you can do to keep them safe while they learn online.


Be honest

Cybersecurity is serious business. Don’t avoid issues because they’re uncomfortable or complicated to explain. Instead, be honest. Tell your children some online activities are safer than others, and set ground rules for what is and what is not appropriate behavior.


The online world is just like the real world. Not talking to strangers at the park is just as important as not talking to strangers in chat rooms. Leaving your toys out for thieves to steal is just like telling someone too much information online. Avoid dividing the real world from the online one. Instead, bring them together by making these types of connections. Children need consistency, and keeping the rules consistent for on and offline activities will help them understand the dangers of both.


Being honest about cybersecurity also means pointing out the good things about online activities. Keep a balanced outlook. Emphasize they need to be cautious but enjoy the internet. It contains wonderful things to help them grow, socialize, and learn. As they learn better online habits, they will feel safer, confident, and in control. Honesty is always the best policy!

Use your creativity

Cybersecurity concepts like online identities and malware can be abstract concepts, especially for younger children. Use examples and analogies that children can relate to easily. For example, use the analogy that computer viruses work like biological viruses. Explain how one “sick” computer infects another. Personal identities are unique like our fingerprints. Stealing someone’s identity is like dressing up as that person for Halloween so you can steal all of their candy. Find creative ways to relate cybersecurity concepts to their everyday lives.

Build trust

Your child (especially as a teenager!) may assume your concerns are more about spying on their online activities rather than looking out for them. Reassure them you won’t get upset if they accidentally click on something they shouldn’t or if their device gets a virus. Overreacting will likely cause resentment, anxiety, and rebellion. These are all counterproductive to building good habits and trust.


For teenagers, be consistent about your concerns. Make it just as much about protecting devices and information as it is about who they’re talking to online. For small children, reinforce the notion that cyberthieves are tricky, but you can beat them by following the rules.

Go online together

The best way to teach a child something is to show them firsthand. Go online and search for a term that interests them. Then explore the results looking for good and bad websites. Take a tour of the browser’s interface. Point out the address bar, bookmarks, extensions, and the search results. Show them how to close an internet pop-up ad and what to do when they can’t find a close button.


Websites come in different flavors when it comes to data safety. Some talk with your browser using encryption and some don’t. Encryption keeps your data safe. Encrypted sites begin their URLs with “https”. Unencrypted ones have “http”. Browser extensions like HTTPS Everywhere identify unsecure websites from secure ones automatically.

Sit down with them and open their favorite app. Explore its social and/or messaging features. Explain what to do if they receive a message. Show them how to respond to in-app purchase and pop-up ads. If you feel your child isn’t mature enough for messaging, check to see if the app allows disabling this feature.

Use online resources

Another effective way to teach children about online safety is using online resources. Internet safety websites like the Federal Trade Commission’s OnGuardOnline has security tips, games, and other online learning resources for parents and guardians. Other sites use videos, quizzes, and other activities to teach cyber security basics to children in a fun and interactive online environment.


You can learn more about online threats and even download a conversation checklist to start a dialogue with your children using the Parents’ Ultimate Guide to Cybersecurity. Downloading free antivirus software will also keep them safe as they practice smart online habits.


The investment you put into talking to your kids about cybersecurity will pay off down the road. The digital world is here, and learning to navigate it is the reality of future generations. Your child’s future success will be tied to their online safety. Helping them create smart online habits at an early age will protect them and keep the internet a fun, safe, and educational place for continued learning.

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