In addition to conversations about staying safe online, there are a number of specific steps you can take to make the online environment more secure.
- Set up filters, virus protection, parental controls and child-friendly browsers. As we went over above, Google, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube all have parental controls and safe search settings that can help protect privacy and filter search results. You can also use a kid-safe browser to help block inappropriate content.
- Set ground rules for using internet-enabled devices. Most people with autism benefit from well-defined rules. Establish some time limits and routines for using the internet and stick to them.
- Discuss inappropriate content, cyberbullying, sexting and exploitation in a developmentally appropriate manner. Things like pop-up ads and misleading language can sometimes lead people with ASD to inappropriate, and sometimes illegal, content. The Center on Transition Innovations has some helpful tips for having a frank and clear conversation on sexuality education.
- Purchase additional monitoring software or apps for your devices. The FBI recommends keeping your firewall turned on, installing or updating your antivirus software, keeping your operating system up to date, never opening email attachments from someone you don’t know and turning off your computer when you’re not using it.
- Use a password manager. Over 155 million Americans were affected by data breaches in 2020. To ensure that all your accounts aren’t compromised in a data breach, it helps to use complex and unique passwords for each account. Rather than remembering each of them, password managers let you store those logins in an encrypted database. That way, you only have to remember one password.