When signing children up for their first library card, I give them the same advice Uncle Ben gave Peter Parker (aka Spiderman): “With great power comes great responsibility.” Library cards are valuable tools to access a wealth of knowledge and information, but there’s another tool just as powerful—the internet. Like any tool, there are safety issues to consider. Cyber security is simply measures taken to keep computers and computer systems safe. We also need to consider how to keep ourselves and our personal information secure.

October is National Cyber Security Awareness month, so now is a great time to evaluate your and your family’s online habits and safety. Many of us spend quite a bit of time online. Kids and teens today who have grown up with the world wide web may seem inherently tech-savvy, but that’s not always the case. Familiarity with and knowing their way around a smart phone doesn’t automatically make a person cyber security savvy, any more than growing up riding in a car would ensure excellent driving skills. Fortunately, there are many resources available for kids and teens, their parents and educators, to learn about potential cyber security threats and how to stay safe online.

Here are just a few:

Safe Online Surfing internet challenge for third through fifth-graders has engaging grade-specific virtual islands where kids learn about online safety on cellphones, social networks, chatrooms and more through games and videos. Stay Safe Online in association with the National Cyber Security Alliance also has lesson plans, and classroom materials for kindergarten through high school, including as tip sheets.

Stop.Think.Connect is a national public awareness campaign aimed at increasing the understanding of cyber threats and empowering everyone to more secure online. This page has resources and tips sorted by areas of interest for specific groups, such as students, parents, or young professionals. Stop.Think.Connect. also makes a guide specifically for parents that answers the top five questions parents have about cyber security, as well as ideas for conversations to have with your child.

Washington State Office of the Attorney General’s page on internet safety for teens  A part of their consumer protection program this goverment site covers the permanence of information shared on the web and how easily private information can be exposed by ‘friends’ online.  

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