Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police and Director of the Department of Public Safety, reminds everyone that June is National Internet Safety Month and encourages all Rhode Islanders to take steps to keep themselves and their families safe while online.
• Nearly 80 percent of all American adults now own smartphones.
• The average age for children to get a smartphone is 10.3 years old.
• By age 12, an average of 50 percent of all children have social media accounts.
• Children ages 8 to 18 spend an average of eight hours a day online – and even more during the summer, once schools let out.
"Internet Safety Month provides the perfect opportunity for parents to talk to their children about the importance of protecting computers and mobile devices, while also teaching them how to stay safe online," said Captain John Alfred, head of the Rhode Island State Police Computer Crimes Unit and the Joint Cyber Task Force. "It also serves as a reminder for all Rhode Islanders to take steps to protect themselves online, whether at home or on vacation."
Here are some simple steps people can take to protect themselves and their families:
• Make sure all devices, including computers, laptops, smartphones and other hand-held electronics, are password protected.
• Update operating systems and software with the latest versions, including patches to protect from malicious attacks.
• Back up valuable data, including photos and documents.
• Set privacy and security settings on web services and devices to limit what you share, and with whom it can be shared.
• Protect your money – shop or bank only on trusted and secure websites.
• Don't use public computers to log into any personal accounts or any sensitive internet sites.
• Talk to your children about protecting mobile devices, as well as what's appropriate – or inappropriate for sharing online (i.e., never share identifying personal information, such as home address, school name and address, email address, etc.)
• Remind children not to communicate online with anyone they don't know; check the "friends" and contacts of young children.
• Remember to share with care. Remind children that anything posted online is beyond their control – and can live forever.
• Discuss with children what types of information, videos, photos, etc., are okay to share, and remind them to be kind when posting photos or comments about others.
It also is important to teach children to protect themselves and their privacy, especially given the prevalence of cyberbullying and cyber predators, Captain Alfred said. Remind them not to connect online with anyone they don't know personally and to notify a trusted adult if they or someone they know is the victim of cyberbullying or cyberstalking.