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In today’s world, digitally connected families must think about safety and security both online and offline.
Every child is taught basic safety and security, like not talking to strangers and looking both ways before crossing the street. Teaching young people easy-to-learn life lessons for online safety and privacy begins with parents leading the way.
Technology has become fully integrated into young people’s lives, and it is nearly impossible for parents or guardians to know everything their teens are doing online. The goal should not be for parents to monitor everything, but instead to teach teens how to be responsible digital citizens.
Tips for parents
Be honest about threats
Be real with your kids. Talk to them about the threats they can face online and why keeping their personal information private is so important to their safety.
Keep pace with new ways to stay safe online: Keep up with new technology and ways to manage privacy. Visit staysafeonline.org or other trusted websites for the latest information about ways to stay safe online. Talk about what you discovered with your family, and engage them on a regular basis to share what they know about privacy.
Remain positively engaged
Pay attention to and know the online environments your children use. In the real world, there are good and bad neighborhoods, and the online world is no different. Help them to identify safe and trusted websites and apps. Encourage them to be cautious about clicking on, downloading, posting and uploading content.
Tips to share with kids
Personal information is like money
Information about your kids, such as the games they like to play and what they search for online, has value ‒ just like money. Talk to your kids about the value of their information and how to be selective with the information they provide to apps and websites. Have a discussion about what types of information they should share, and what types of information (such as addresses, photos, phone numbers, etc.) they should not share.
What happens online stays online
Help your children understand that any information they share online can easily be copied and is almost impossible to take back. Teach them to consider who might see a post and how it might be perceived in the future.
Own your online presence
Start the conversation about the public nature of the Internet early. Learn about and teach your kids how to use privacy and security settings on their favorite online games, apps and platforms. Take a moment to configure them together–explaining why you are restricting some features (such as location tracking).
Post only about others as you would like them to post about you
Remind children and family members about the golden rule and that it applies online as well. What they do online can positively or negatively impact other people.
Tips to share with teens
We recommend parents and guardians take time to discuss cybersecurity best practices with their teens, stressing a few of these critical points:
Privacy and security settings exist for a reason
Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.
Keep personal info personal
Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data or commit other crimes such as stalking.
Once posted, always posted
Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research found that 70 percent of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.
Be aware of what’s being shared
Be aware that when you post a picture or video online, you may also be sharing information about others or personal details about yourself like where you live, go to school or hang out.
Know and manage your friends
Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a “fan” page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know and trust) up to date with your daily life. Also, you don’t have to accept friend requests from everyone. If you don’t know someone, it’s perfectly fine not to accept their request to connect.
Know what action to take
If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them and report them to the site administrator.
Know what’s being collected, who is collecting it and how it will be used
Information about you, such as the games you like to play, what you search for online and where you shop and live, has value – just like money. Be thoughtful about who gets that information and how it’s collected through apps and websites. Only use a product or service if the company is open and clearly states how it will use your personal information. If you’re not sure what a business will do with your information, ask your parents. Think twice if an app wants permission to use personal information (like your location) it doesn’t need before you say “OK.”
Use secure wi-fi
Public wireless networks and hotspots are not secure – this means the possibility exists that anyone can see what you are doing on your laptop or smartphone while you are connected to it. Think about what you are doing and if you would want another person to see it. If you use public WiFi a lot, think about using a virtual private network (VPN) that provides a more secure WiFi connection.
Now you see me, now you don’t
Some stores and other locations look for devices with WiFi or Bluetooth turned on to track your movements while you are within range. Turn off WiFi and Bluetooth when not in use, and limit your use of free public wireless networks, which stores and locations can use to track what you do online.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, it’s a good idea to check your child’s credit report near the age of 16 so you’ll have time to fix any errors before they take out that first loan or apply for their first job. Learn more about child identity protection here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0040-child-identity-theft
- FTC: Protecting Kids Online
- FBI: Cyber Safety for Young Americans
- Consumer Reports: How to Protect Children’s Online Privacy
- FTC: Protecting Your Child’s Privacy Online