No one is born with an innate sense of cybersecurity; cyber hygiene is something that everyone has to learn. Though your little ones have likely grown up with sophisticated digital technology in their hands, unless you have taken the time to teach them how to use the internet safely, they are almost certainly using their devices in ways that put themselves and your entire family at serious risk. Here are a few of the most typical dangerous behaviors performed by children and how you should intervene to keep everyone in your home safer.

Believing Obvious Scams

Kids have no frame of reference for what is true and what is fantasy, which is why they so gullibly accept stories about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy and the night monster who eats kids who refuse to go to sleep at bedtime. Unfortunately, this also means that they are apt to believe stories they encounter online, which makes them prime targets for lazy scammers. Scams that adults might immediately clock are often wholeheartedly believed by younger web users, and if they act on the directives scammers give them, your kids could compromise your entire home security system — not to mention your family savings accounts — in a matter of moments.

Before your kids start using the internet unsupervised, you should talk to them about how not everything they see and read on the web is definitely true. You might explain how bad people also use the internet and try to trick kids into doing certain things that put them at risk. Finally, you should always keep communication open with your children, so if they are uncertain about a certain message, they feel comfortable coming to you with questions and concerns.

Sharing Sensitive Information With Strangers

Most parents know that as soon as a child learns to talk, the trick becomes getting them to be quiet. Plenty of children are inveterate chatterboxes, and after exhausting friends and family members with their constant stream of speech, they will turn to the web to chat with anyone willing to engage with them. Social media sites and live chat services are exceedingly popular with kids and teens, as they can connect with anyone around the world — especially cyber criminals eager to take in sensitive information about a child’s life and family.

Information is exceedingly valuable to cyber criminals, who can use it to steal identities or launch attacks against home networks. Therefore, you must explain to your child again and again the importance of keeping certain details about themselves private, both online and off. Some of the most critical information to clamp down on includes legal names, addresses and phone numbers, but kids should also be heavily discouraged from sharing photos, especially those you have not pre-approved.

Seeking out Inappropriate Content

Kids tend to be insatiably curious, and when their parents aren’t willing or able to explain concepts to them, many will find their own ways of discovering the truth. In the digital age, that means turning to the internet. Unfortunately, many kids are left wondering about some terribly mature topics, like sexuality and violence, and the web isn’t exactly the best place to learn about these issues in a safe and straightforward way.

Children accidently expose themselves to all manner of inappropriate content online, even when they aren’t purposefully seeking it out. The best way to protect your kid from some of the most unsavory corners of the web is to use a trustworthy internet security solution from a brand like TrendMicro, which will have robust parental control features built in. You should also be available to answer your kids’ most burning questions, even if they make you feel uncomfortable.

Engaging in Bullying Behaviors

Different kids engage in bullying for different reasons; for some, it is a way to feel empowered when they are largely deprived of any authority at home or school, and for others, bullying makes them feel like a valuable part of an in-group. In any case, many kids will participate in bullying, and these days, the easiest place to get away with bullying is online, where kids can assume some level of anonymity or escape the immediate notice of disapproving adults.

Of course, bullying is bad for dozens of reasons, but in terms of your family’s cybersecurity, it can be particularly devastating. Any stranger a child bullies might launch a cyberattack campaign against your home in retaliation, which could lead to malfunctioning smart home gadgets — including smart locks or security cameras — as well as unending waves of malware. If you know that your child is prone to bullying behaviors, you need to talk to them about how cyber bullying can have devastating ramifications for everyone, and you might need to consider how your own actions are influencing your child’s behavior.

Your kids deserve to develop a sense of how to use the web safely, but that will take both time and encouragement from you. With the right tools to keep your home network secure and plenty of communication, you should be able to teach your children how to navigate the internet without risk.