If your kids are anything like mine, they realize kind of late that it's time to do their holiday shopping and they like to do that shopping online. So this is a great "teachable moment" for a family conversation about smart online shopping. Here are some talking points:
Don't be socially engineered. Click carefully – phishers and other scammers like to trick people into clicking on bad links by appealing to people's penchant for great deals (which are almost always too good to be true) or posing as your friends (after hacking into their social networking or other online accounts). * Stick with retailers you know 'n' love, like the Web sites of favorite stores at your local mall or well-known online retailers like Amazon. * Look for the "https:" (the "s" standing for "secure") at the beginning of the retailer's Web address. * Use PayPal or a credit card, not a debit card (you're only liable for $50 if your credit card number gets into the wrong hands). * Don't shop at free wi-fi hotspots; shop on a secure, passworded network. * Keep your computer security software up-to-date and make sure it includes bad site detection such as TrendProtect or Norton Safe Web.
This is new media literacy training of the most practical kind It makes sense to our kids, and it teaches critical thinking not only about the content of and intentions behind incoming emails and direct messages but also about how we act on them. New media literacy is about behavior as much as content and what's outgoing as what's incoming online and on phones. Here are more trips from TrendMicro and a WDOK Radio in Cleveland, and here are ConnectSafely's tips for choosing and keeping secure passwords. [Your kids know that keeping passwords secure and secret is as much for their safety as for computer security, right? If people's passwords are secure, no one can use them to impersonate you and harass others while they pretend to be you – a tactic that victimizes the password owner as much as the recipients of mean messages. It happens too much, and we need to alert our kids to that.]
BTW, holiday online shopping is up 12% over the same time next year, online market researcher comScore announced today, and cybercriminals, like pickpockets, like efficiency – they go where the crowds are – so be alert.