In today’s world, digitally connected families must think about security both online and offline. Every child is taught basic safety, 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.
- 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.
- Personal information is like money. Value it. Protect it.: 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.
- Post only about others as you would like to have them 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- Stay current. 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.
As a parent, you have control over the personal information companies collect online from your kids under 13. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act gives you tools to do that. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, enforces the COPPA Rule. If a site or service is covered by COPPA, it has to get your consent before collecting personal information from your child and it has to honor your choices about how that information is used.