There is no question surrounding the fact that the internet has become an essential part of our daily lives. It provides endless opportunities for learning, communication, and entertainment. For our kids, this is natural, as they’ve grown up in a digital world. However, with access to essentially all the information in the world, there are risks that come with it. It is therefore highly important that both parents and kids understand the dangers that exist online and take steps to protect their personal information.
So, whether your child is just starting to use the internet or is already a professional surfer, they still need help to stay safe and avoid potential risks while having fun online.
Keeping personal information private helps protect a child’s privacy and prevents others from accessing sensitive information about them. It can also help keep children safe from potential risks, such as cyberbullying, identity theft, and exposure to inappropriate content. Things a child shares online can impact their digital footprint and online reputation, both now and in the future. By protecting their personal information, they can help maintain a positive online reputation.
So, what exactly is “personal information” and what does this have to do with my child?
A child’s personal online information is made up of any information that can be used to identify the child or reveal information about them. This can include:
- The child’s first and last name can be used to identify them and find information about them online.
- The child’s birthdate can be used to find more information about them or their family.
- The child’s home address can be used to find out where they live and potentially put them at risk.
- A child’s phone number or email address can be used to contact them and potentially put them at risk.
- Pictures and videos of a child can reveal information about their appearance, location, and activities.
- Comments made by a child on social media or other websites can reveal information about their likes, dislikes, opinions, and beliefs.
- An IP address is a unique number that identifies a device and can be used to determine the child’s location.
- A child’s online activity, or digital footprint, can reveal information about their interests and browsing habits. This includes the sites they visit and the content they consume.
By helping your child to protect this information, you can help keep them safe online and avoid potential internet risks.
Here are a few simple suggestions you can follow to help keep your child’s information private online:
When creating an account on a website, make sure to use a strong password that includes letters, numbers, and symbols. Never use any personal information as a password, because if they’ve already shared information about themself, or if they do so in the future, people will be able to easily guess their passwords. It goes without saying that your child shouldn’t be sharing any personal information online, but if a website asks for this information, make sure they ask an adult for help.
Your child should only share things on social media that they’re okay with the world seeing, even their grandma. This includes pictures, videos, and comments. They need to understand that once they post something online, it’s there forever.
If your child gets a message or friend request from someone you don’t know, they shouldn’t accept it. If they are already chatting to online friends that they haven’t met, you need to ensure that they don’t overshare their personal information.
If they receive a link in an email or text message that they’re not sure about, they must not click on it. They need to ask an adult for help and understand that if something seems too good to be true, it more than likely is. They should never give out their personal information or send money to someone they don’t know.
Most websites have privacy settings that your child can use to control who can see their information and posts. Make sure to turn on these settings to help keep their information private. Most social media sites also contain parental controls. Be sure to check those out and see what works for you.
By being mindful of these simple steps, you can help your child protect their information online and stay safe while having fun. Remember, if they’re ever unsure about something, they need to ask a trusted adult for help.