Summertime is upon us and that means more free time for our kids. In a perfect world, our children would be active all day long, keeping busy with some form of physical and preferably outdoor activity.  But when the lazy days of summer arrive and we find our kids surfing the internet rather than surfing the ocean waves, it’s time for us to implement ‘safe surfing’! We’ve gathered some valuable tips and reminders to help you and your kids stay cool and out of the heat while traveling the World Wide Web:

 Never give out personal information - Don’t post your home address, telephone numbers, parent’s work addresses, camp addresses or any other location where you might be.  Not only can cybercriminals take this information to create fake profiles using your details, but predators can locate you, stalk you or worse yet try to kidnap you.
 
Never talk to strangers, online or offline - Take the phrase ‘Stranger Danger’ to heart and don’t talk to or meet up with anyone you don’t know.  Quite often people you ‘speak’ to online are not who they say they are and may try to encourage you to meet them in person.  Always tell your parents if a stranger has tried to contact you on the internet.
 
Keep your settings private and secure - Make sure your social network privacy settings are set so only your friends (people that you know) can see your personal information.  Remember to also apply this to your photos, videos and posts.  Most importantly, never post vacation plans online!  If you post travel plans and photos, you’re setting yourself and your family up for potential criminals to track your movement and for possible home burglary.
 
Password Protection – Never share your password with anyone other than your parents, even if your friends ask for it and promise they won’t tell anyone what it is!  By sharing your password, you open the door for trouble in the form of potentially problematic posts and messages that will appear to have come from you.  Remember when setting and creating your password, make sure it isn’t one that can easily be guessed like a pet’s name or your birthdate.  Combine a mixture of numbers, letters and upper and lower case characters.  Try using the @ symbol in place of an ‘a’.
 
Steer clear of cyberbullying - Just as bullying takes place on school grounds and street corners, it takes place online as well.  While cyberbullying is verbal rather than physical, it is just as damaging and hurtful and can transpire across all devices and all age groups. Never engage in harmful text messaging, emailing, Instagramming, Facebooking, etc.  If you become a victim of cyberbullying, tell your parents or a responsible adult.  *Adults should heed this advice just as much as teens and youths!
 
Summertime is meant for having fun in the sun!  So put on your sunscreen and go out and enjoy yourselves…and remember to surf safely, both at the beach and on the web!