How to Talk to Your Kids about Online Safety so No One Gets to Trick Them

by Miriam Tocino


These days some of us are spending more time online than usual.

If you've been following Zerus & Ona for a while, I have the hunch that your family already knows a lot about computer viruses. But, it might be a good time to revisit the topic.

In this blog post I’ll share some ideas to help you talk to your kids about how to be safe online and learn the tricks that bad people on the Internet normally use to make our computers go crazy.

You'll hear about:

PRO TIP: Watch the video together with your kids. Pause it to answer their questions and keep them engaged!

Now, let's begin.

Sometimes we, humans, get sick
. But, we're not alone.

Because computers can get sick too!


If you're not feeling well, there are many things you can do. You might go to the doctor and tell her your symptoms. Sometimes the doctor will say, "You've got a Virus!" and she’ll give you some medicine.

Probably, she'll suggest that you get lots of rest, eat well and drink plenty of water until you start feeling better. 
But medicine and water won't work for computers
.

So, how do you cure a computer virus?

There are clear ways to treat it. And, you can even prevent it from happening!

zerus and ona computer basics for kids


What Is A Computer Virus?

We,
humans, tell computers what to do by writing "code"
.

Whenever you're listening to your favorite playlist, working on a document, or playing a computer game, you probably don't stop and think that a human wrote the necessary code to make that happen.

Most of the times, the people writing the code for those programs do it for good. They don't want to cause any harm.

But there are other people out there who write code that can damage your computer. And that's where computer viruses come from.

The "infected" code gets inside of your computer, ready to attack some of its parts. Just like a virus attacks parts of your body.


A computer virus can do a lot of damage. 
It can access all of your computer, including the hard drive (the place where lots of data is stored).

A computer virus can read your files or, even worse, delete them.

This includes any personal information saved on your computer, like bank account details and secret passwords for all sorts of things.


A virus can also access your email contacts (if they're stored on your computer). If this happens, all your friends could start receiving emails from you with the virus attached. In
this case, the code containing the virus will infect them, too.

And all this
 can happen very quickly!


zerus and ona computer basics for kids

Where Do Computer Viruses Come From?


Programs/Apps


Viruses can be hidden inside any program or app. Make sure you trust the place you're downloading them from and avoid any new or less popular places.

Email Attachments 


Anyone can send you an email whether you know them or not. If you don't know the person, don't click on any links or attachments you receive with the email.

Ask a grown-up to look at that email with you.


Photos


Bad people on the Internet use pictures in different ways to infect your computer. Most of the time, the photo itself is harmless. It's just a trick to get you do something stupid.

Other times, the picture itself will contain malicious code hidden inside, without changing its appearance.

This hidden information could contain instructions to harm your computer.


Internet


One of the easiest ways for a virus to get into your computer is through the Internet. Make sure you check the address before visiting any websites.

For a secure address, always look for "https" in it. 


When you click on videos published on social media websites, they may ask you to install a particular type of plug-in to watch that video. But, in reality, these plug-ins might be malicious software ready to steal your sensitive information.

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

How Can You Keep Your Computer Healthy?


How do you keep your body healthy? Do you exercise? Eat fruit? Vegetables? And do you drink water?

Taking regular exercise and eating and drinking well will help you to keep healthy and you're less likely to get sick.


But, how does this apply to your computer? How can you prevent viruses and malicious code from entering it?

And without the need to stop using the Internet, your email or downloading pictures!

Antivirus Programs

It's recommended that you install an Antivirus program on your computer. This will scan your computer every day and if there’s something harmful in your computer, it’ll find it.

Keeping your antivirus program up-to-date will help you avoid infections, as well as quickly isolate and clean any viruses that do make it through your defenses.


System Updates


You also need to download and install security fixes for your computer system as they come out.

Installing such fixes as quickly as possible reduces the likelihood of a Virus taking advantage of one of these gaps and infecting your system.

You can set your computer to install these updates automatically or check your update status regularly.


Common Sense


You can do many, many things to keep your computer safe, but many infections come from simple human errors.

zerus and ona computer basics for kids

Now, Zerus, Ona and I would love to hear from you. What’s the biggest insight you and your kids are taking away from this information? Are you taking action to make it safer when you go online?

Let us know by leaving a comment below.

Share as much detail as possible in your reply. Parenting in a digital world is a such a new thing and your insights might help enormously to others.

Lots of megas from The Binary World,

Miriam


Complement your reading with how you can help your child with coding classes (even if you haven't done any programming before!) and the 3 things to keep in mind when making use of technology at home to feel calm and confident about your child's digital lives.

The illustrations in this post are part of Zerus gets a Virus, the first title in the collection of Zerus & Ona —a picture book about computer security and computer viruses. If you want to order a copy, click here.



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