For the first 9 months of 2019, there were more than 11.2 million reports of internet crimes against children. However, that number soared to 18.4 million for the same period in 2020, when COVID-19 related quarantines and lockdowns were in full swing. Why? Predators knew that millions of kids were now at home. COVID-19 meant that most kids were distance learning, canceling their extracurricular activities, and eliminating their dates with friends. Knowing this, predators were able to target kids in new ways. This surge in cases left many worried about the safety of kids online. With the summer months coming, many parents worry about the increase of time their child will be spending online. How can you protect your child from the dangers online? We’ve got 5 tips to keep your kids safe online this summer.

Tip 1 — Talk to Them

“An investment in knowledge, pays the best interest” – Benjamin Franklin

Educating and empowering our children about online dangers is one of the biggest investments we can make as parents and guardians. It takes time and energy to protect children from potential dangers, but it is a commitment worth taking on. Many people worry that if they talk to their children about such things it will scare them. However, the Innocent Lives Foundation highlighted an important point in one of their blog posts, “We teach our children fire safety, water safety, and car safety skills, yet our children are not fearful of fires, crossing the street, or swimming.” When education is done in the proper way and with open communication, such warnings will not scare them. Instead it will empower them.

Children everywhere can be a target, regardless of their age. Police say, if the child has a device, they’re at risk. So, starting online safety conversations early on is the best way to arm a child. To prepare for such a conversation, the child’s age and maturity level should be taken into consideration. Remember that the smaller the child, the smaller the attention span. With younger children, visuals and activities may be more effective. However, no matter what the age, clear language and a serious tone should be used as this will help drive in the importance of what you are teaching them.

Tip 2 — Know Their Devices

Parents must accept the fact that there is no way to 100% safeguard their kids. And while that fact may make you feel like you are fighting a losing battle, it underscores the importance of protecting your kids online. As children get older, they use more devices on a daily basis. A 2019 report showed that teens (13 years old and up) use their phone for an average of 7 hours and 22 minutes per day. Tweens (ages 8-12) average 4 hours and 44 minutes per day. The screen time evaluated did not include the time the same age groups spent doing online schooling. This fact shows that these age brackets are the biggest target when it comes to online danger. In view of this, shrinking your child’s target size is important.

Knowing your child’s device will help you understand how they are using the time they spend on internet. The Department of Justice offers a few tips. One of which is to review games, apps, and social media sites that your child wants to use. Before anything is downloaded or used, it is important for you to review what the app does and how it works. Pay particular attention to apps and sites that feature end-to-end encryption, direct messaging (DM), video chats, file uploads, or keeps its users anonymous. Depending on the child’s age and maturity, you may decide to block these features or not allow your child to use the app unsupervised. Keeping devices in open, common areas of the home will also help you to keep an eye on how your child is using internet-based devices.

Tip 3 — Shrink Your Kid’s Target Size

So what can you do to make sure your child isn’t the object of an attack and shrink their target size? Here’s a few recommendations:

  • Check your child’s devices regularly. It’s import to check their online search history, what they are posting on social media, as well as their emails, and texts.
  • Know the passwords to their devices and accounts.
  • Ask questions about how they use their devices and the apps on it such as,
    Why do you use it?
    How do you use it?
    Would you help me install and configure it?
    Will you teach me how to use it?
    Will you add me as a friend?
  • Be a good role model. Demonstrate how you create strong passwords for your own accounts, set restrictions for yourself on your devices, and plan time away from your devices.

Tip 4 — Set Social Media Rules

Keep Your Kids Safe Online

When it comes to social media use, it’s important for parents to set rules for the use of each platform. Privacy settings are different for the different social media apps. For a detailed list for each platform go to https// Even with privacy settings, it is important for your child to know proper safety habits when it comes to using social media.

  • Be careful what you share. If you wouldn’t show the photo to your family or classmates, don’t post it.
  • Don’t add strangers to your friends list. If you don’t know them in person, don’t add them on social media.
  • Keep your info safe. Do not make your birthday, home address, or school information publicly viewable.
  • Never meet up. Never meet up with someone that you met through social media.
  • Be careful clicking links. Be cautious about any link sent to you on social media, it could be malicious.

Tip 5 — Get Your Kids Involved

While there are many dangers on the internet, it’s also true that there are many things that are educational and fun! One of those things is the SECTF4Kids and the SECTF4Teens. For over 10 years, at the DEF CON conference, the SEVillage, hosted by has put on these events, that focus on kids ages 6-17. The two events are age specific and not only teach kids about problem solving, puzzles, and communication, but also highlight online safety. These free competitions are a good example of how to get your child involved in safe online activities. This year, for DEF CON 29, these events are being hosted virtually.

Often you hear the quote, “it takes a village to raise a child.” This statement is true, both in raising a child and keeping our children safe online.  It’s true not only for those of us who are parents and guardians, but also for those who are  trying to make the online world a safer place for kids. To help those who work on this full time, please visit