Cybersecurity Rules You Should Teach Your Teenagers

With all the risks of modern life, it’s tempting for parents to lay down rules about cell phone use, online privacy, and other forms of cyber safety. While these are essential things to teach our children, there should be a certain amount of flexibility regarding what you can expect from them. To not stifle their creativity and risk their ambitions, it’s a good idea to allow them a little leeway when it comes to cybersecurity rules. Here are some of the basics.


Basic principles of cybersecurity for your teenager 

Cybersecurity is malleable. It’s an important field of study, but surely there are some things that should be considered more important than others.

Cybersecurity Rules You Should Teach Your Teenagers 1


Don’t share too much.

Just because you can post on Facebook about anything doesn’t mean you should, and this goes for all social networks, forums, and other digital communications channels. It’s best to err on the side of caution when sharing personal information or photos that may be compromising in the wrong hands.

Keeping things private is essential online, but it’s no excuse for impoliteness if your teenager is doing so simply out of spite or anger. Your teenager should know better than to engage in passive-aggressive behavior that would incite a digital backlash against them.


Avoid using weak passwords.

When teens go online, they’re likely to want to be as funny as possible with their comments and images, sometimes having unexpected consequences. For example, a picture of your house could easily be put up on a real estate website and lead to a security breach so severe it could destroy your family’s reputation. If you’d rather not have many strangers see your personal information online, use a long password. Especially when it comes to social networks, this is important because many people leave their passwords open for others to see if they like them or not (and guess who has access).


Make sure you use Tor.

Tor is a free online service that enables users to browse the web anonymously. It is used for improved data protection from hackers and other online snoops, and it’s an excellent choice for people who have a weak password or just want to live a little more anonymously. The downside is that it’s not going to give your teenager the level of online privacy they would get if they used a virtual private network (VPN), which encrypts all your web traffic so no one but you can see what you’re doing online.


Cross-site scripting attacks are real, so be aware of them.

You probably know that “phishing” refers to a type of cyber attack in which hackers use fraudulent emails or bogus website links to try to trick users into handing over personal information. Another form of attack is cross-site scripting, which can be accomplished when a hacker injects malicious software into your web browser. The only way to protect against this sort of threat is through antivirus software, so make sure your teenager knows how to spot it.


A virtual private network can be helpful if you’re worried about online predators.

Cyber predators pose an ever-present threat to teens online. So it’s critical to make sure you and your teenager are using strong passwords and employing password management tools and other security measures. But if you’re truly worried about the safety of your teen online, a virtual private network (VPN) is worth considering. VPNs encrypt your information as it travels through the Internet, which means it’s challenging for hackers to intercept that data once it reaches the destination site. Using a VPN can help ensure that no one but you can see what you’re doing online, whether on Facebook or another web destination.


Even better: teach them programming basics.

By the time your teen is ready for college or even high school, coding should be one of the core parts of their education. Learning to code helps teenagers develop critical thinking skills. Studies show that children who are good at solving problems are better prepared to succeed in life, especially when things like growing in school and running a successful business.

The earlier you start teaching your teenager the basics of coding, the better off they will be later on when it comes to developing critical thinking skills. Some people think that learning to code is too difficult for most people who haven’t studied programming in college or otherwise immersed themselves in computer science. But while learning to code might take a little time and effort, it’s still possible, and teens should be encouraged to give it a shot.


Limit who your teen shares phone numbers with.

Teenagers often employ questionable judgment when sharing their phone numbers with people they don’t know well. Teens should remember that this kind of behavior will increase the risk of identity theft and hinder opportunities later in life. Do your best to reduce the number of people accessing your teen’s cell phone through texting or other social media platforms. If you have your smartphone, try limiting the number of people who have access to it, so only a close circle has easy access.


Don’t be afraid to take away your teen’s mobile device.

If you have a smartphone for work, keep it in an office or home office. If you have a personal cell phone, keep it in your pocket or purse when you’re not using it. It’s not only a good idea to limit the opportunities for identity theft online, but it can also prevent instances of cyberbullying or inappropriate content being posted on social media channels that are well-connected to your teen’s identity.


A little self-control goes a long way.

Your teenage son or daughter is likely oblivious to their online friends’ true intentions, which means they’re more likely to share photos that could lead to embarrassment later on. That’s why it’s essential to give them some self-control when they’re online. Walk them through how to use social media while monitoring what they’re doing and holding their hand while logging in. If your teen is using personal accounts like Facebook, try reading up on how to manage their privacy settings so they can keep their social life separate from work life.



It’s important to teach your teen about online safety because it can be an intimidating subject for many teenagers growing up in the digital age. But teaching your teen about online safety is also one of the best ways to help them have a better chance at succeeding in school, both today and in the future.

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