Everyone has a right to privacy online, but children, in particular, may not understand some of the risks involved with being on the internet. Here are some effective ways to protect your family’s privacy on the internet.
A well-informed family is the first step. A family meeting should go over what kids should know about internet privacy, what is and isn’t OK for your family to share and why, and what should raise red flags when talking with strangers. Teach kids to ask themselves “Is this something the rest of my family would mind strangers knowing about?”
Rules and guidelines will also be useful, especially if you explain why those rules are in place. One common one many families use is “If I have to ask myself if this is OK to say, I shouldn’t say it.” Design the rules to be about thoughtfulness and courtesy, not secrecy. Kids should learn to ask questions of people to better understand their boundaries as part of growing up.
Check Your Settings
The more private social networks and chat apps are, the better. Limit these to friends and family you know in real life, and use operating system settings and parental control software to limit both access to certain apps and when they can be used, as well as configuring privacy settings.
Read the Fine Print
Many apps will request “permissions” that don’t seem necessary, such as access to your contacts. Even if they have a good reason for asking for this data, think carefully before allowing it to be offered. Once you grant these permissions, they’re granted for good. Similarly, read the end user license agreement (EULA) for software to see what you’re accepting.
Know the Laws
Kids have certain protections that adults don’t on the internet under laws such as the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA.) Familiarize yourself with the laws that apply, so your family knows its rights if information is out there you’d prefer to keep private.
Think Before Posting
Many parents will share funny stories and photos of their kids without thinking twice. Yet consider for a moment that those stories will be online forever. Is this something your family will want out there when the kids are all grown up?
Check For Unexpected Information
You’d be surprised how much information can be drawn from a simple picture, depending not just on what the subject is, but the setting, what’s in the background, what people are wearing, and more. Before putting up a photo or sharing some information about a family member, think for a moment about what people may be able to conclude about them from what you’re sharing.
As you can see, this is a complicated topic, and it’s only going to become more so as children grow, technology changes, and our approach to what technology is necessary in society evolves. Parental control software can help you manage in a changing world. To learn more, try it for free!