Six tips on how to protect your kids’ privacy online

If you don't take your kids' online privacy seriously, they can get into serious digital trouble, or worse, take emotional or physical damage. (c) Malwarebytes

What kids (and some adults) probably don’t realize is that there are real-world consequences for the things you do online. We should always remind our children of this. To be honest, it’s easy to forget what’s at stake when you get what you want quickly and comparatively easily. And in most cases, children do not think about sharing personal information.

If you don’t take your kids’ online privacy seriously, they can get into serious digital trouble, or worse, take emotional or physical damage. When it comes to criminals specifically looking for children’s personal information, identity theft is something parents need to be concerned about. The sites they visit may be child-friendly, but that doesn’t mean they take special care of the child’s information.

Sharing too much information online, such as.B. The current whereabouts and what one is doing is especially dangerous for children, as it can invite potential stalkers. Child can ruin opportunities in worst case scenario by publicly sharing compromising images of self. such photos can later cost one a new job, a grant or entitlement to benefits and other public and private services for which the child may want to apply in the future. It also opens the door to bullying, name-calling and humiliation. Here are six tips you can give your kids to help them protect their privacy online:

"There is information about you, your friends and other people around you."

Children should have guidelines about what information , videos, photos or posts of themselves or others should be shared and what not. Home address, the name of the school you attend, landline number and email addresses are examples of data that should never be shared publicly online. Harmless on the other hand are harmless selfies, cat pictures or funny GIFs. The family recipe that has been passed down for generations? Well, maybe you should ask grandma about it first.

"Timing is everything."

If children can’t avoid sharing information about their current whereabouts, they should at least delay doing so. This way, a potential intrusion from a social media post is avoided and you can still share your experience.

"Checking social media settings or possible privacy policy changes that are suddenly binding."

Companies that target children are required by law to include a privacy policy in their terms of use. The information of their young users also meets the standards of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). It is recommended for parents to regularly check the settings of their children’s online account.

"Familiarize them with laws that protect online privacy."

Parents should do this first and foremost so they can pass on their insights to their children. At the same time they should keep their language simple and understandable. Familiarizing children with laws can also help them learn what information they, as consumers, can share or withhold from companies that request data from them. You should also explain the DSGVO in its basic features.

"Parents need to guide children on social media account privacy settings."

When the child is the right age and ready to open a social media account, it should be set up with the parent and as much time as possible should be spent understanding the various privacy settings offered for that particular platform. This can also be an excellent opportunity to provide additional tips if they z.B. Receiving friend requests from someone outside their circle.

"Collect information about the platforms that children use."

This is to raise awareness of what can happen online if information is not handled carefully.

Privacy, surveillance and apps: a complicated love story

It is the ethical, moral and legal obligation of a parent to protect their children. And whether kids like it or not, that goes for their digital lives too. So before a new smartphone or tablet is handed over, three things should already have been established: first, the parent needs to assess that the child is mentally and emotionally mature enough to own and take responsibility for a device; second, there needs to be open communication between parent and child about online activities; third, there needs to be an agreement about expectations for how the device will be used, including the amount of time and what types of websites will be visited.

Raising digital natives has not become easier and will probably become even more difficult in the future. In the not too distant future the signs will reverse and they will raise children themselves – a second or third generation of digital natives. We can only vaguely imagine what life will be like then. But until then, it’s crucial for parents to internalize a concept of online privacy for their own good and for generations to come.

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