A student’s life is a busy one. So busy that when they’re online – which is almost certainly quite a lot of the time – they could be too busy to think about whether what they’re doing is safe and secure.
Add to this the fact that young people tend to take greater risks than their parents, and it could be that they would benefit from some simple advice about protecting themselves from the multitude of online harms they might encounter every day.
Help your child live a trouble-free student life online by sharing these top tips.
Steering clear of fraud
Fraudulent texts, emails, DMs and calls claiming to be from the bank, student loan provider, HMRC and other trusted organisations are commonplace. Overseas students can be targeted by visa fraudsters too. Not thinking before they click could cost your child their money or identity, or both.
Your child should keep their banking and other financial details private, and make money transfers safely via their bank’s app. They should also get to know their Student Money Adviser.
Suggest your child checks if a website they’re buying from is likely to be legit or fraudulent, at www.getsafeonline.org/checkawebsite
Payment by bank transfer to an unknown person or company for accommodation deposits, fees or other costs or purchases should be avoided. Using a card is considerably safer.
Help your child check out new accommodation in person, and make sure the advertiser is authentic before paying any money. Deposits and other up-front payments should be paid by credit card for extra protection.
What goes online stays online. Financial and other confidential details should be kept private, as should passwords and other login details. Intimate images shared innocently can fall into the wrong hands. Location settings on phones and apps should be checked to help protect physical safety. Freebies and prize draws asking for confidential data should be avoided.
There’s no place online for any kind of abuse, hate speech, forcing views on others or criminal activity. Remember: 70% of employers check out candidates’ social media profiles before interviewing and hiring.
Using mobile devices and Wi-Fi
Phones, tablets and laptops should be protected at all times. If what your child is doing is confidential or financial, they should avoid using Wi-Fi hotspots as there’s no guarantee they’re secure. Warn your child about location services on apps too.
For some students, betting can become a bad habit. Remind your child how much money and time they could be wasting and the positive things they could do with it. Point out the fine line between gaming and gambling.
Top tips are to use a reputable app or site and keep conversations on its messaging platform. Not everyone is who they claim to be … some even use online dating to commit fraud or threaten their date’s physical safety. Tell them not to be afraid to block or say no.
If it feels wrong, don’t do it!
Your child should never be put under pressure to do something they feel uncomfortable with, or put others under pressure. Like sharing intimate pics, harmful pranking, extreme content, social media hacking or any kind of extremism.
Jobs that are too good to be true
Students are favourite targets for illegal get rich quick schemes, like jobs with pay that’s too good to be true or others using their bank accounts to ‘process payments’. Money muling or laundering could result a criminal record, even if it’s done innocently.
Clever coders and gamers are sometimes recruited by cybercriminals wanting their skills for malware coding or hacking. Talk to your child about the consequences and discuss alternatives like a lucrative career in cybersecurity.