Tips for Keeping Kids' Information Safe Online

Engage with the West Michigan Woman Community!

Think before sharing content, providing data, or giving online access to your kids.

In a post-Cambridge Analytica world, we have learned how far-reaching the implications are of what we share online. Initially, social media made connecting with our friends and families easier, but the platforms have grown so rapidly that we may not have had ample time to analyze the consequences.

The sharing of our daily lives is now second-nature to most. The amount of information users willingly share is likely too much to measure, however once that information is shared and photos are posted, control of the content is relinquished and you may be opening your family up to an unwanted invasion of privacy--or worse, to online predators.

Here are some tips to maintain your child's right to online privacy and avoid overexposing your family's information.

Let Your Kids Decide Their Digital Future

Many "sharents" (parents who can't help but publicly overshare their family) have posted hundreds of photos before children have learned to walk. It's understandable to want to share your child's most adorable moments but take a moment to consider that when you post these photos, you're making a choice on that child's behalf to share extremely personal content without their consent. The genie can't be put back in the bottle; once kids have an online presence, that cannot be undone. So take a moment to pause and think about the consequences before you post.

Avoid Embarrassing Photos

If you are going to share photos of your child, be mindful. You don't want an embarrassing image or story that you may use to lovingly tease your child about to become a bully's bait down the road. Once stories or images are posted online, they can be easily shared but not so easily destroyed or forgotten.

Check Your Privacy Settings

Read the privacy policies and learn the privacy settings on your preferred social networks. Set your photos to the highest privacy settings where possible. Although photos posted online can live for eternity, limiting the audience to which they're shared severely minimizes the possibility of them falling into the wrong hands.

Don't Be Naïve

What may be adorable to you may be misused by others. A photo of your child in the bathtub, for example, can be captured by someone who with a screenshot can exploit it, manipulate it and even misappropriate it, posting it to other sites.

Hashtags May Make You Vulnerable

Avoid using hashtags like #nakedkids, #nakedbaby, etc., or other inappropriate labels that make it easy for ill-intentioned predators to find specific images.

Clean Up Time

Audit the information-sharing practices of the mobile apps you have on your connected devices. Consider deleting accounts and removing apps that do not employ safe and responsible practices.

Teach Good Digital Citizenship

When it comes time to give your child a smartphone or tablet, help them with its setup. Teach the importance of creating a strong password and the rationale behind it. Remind them that their digital footprint is about more than just images, it's about interactions as well. Comments and discussions can live online for an eternity.

Constant Communication

When your children are old enough to understand, let them know what photos you plan to share of them. Respect their opinion. If there are images they think are embarrassing or that make them uncomfortable, take them down.

Set Limits and Stick to Them

It's easy for us all to be consumed with technology and oversharing. Setting limits on internet usage is a great way to keep it in check. Establish ground rules for use of whatever devices and apps you give your children permission to use.

Additional Resources

  • The Family Online Safety Institute offers safety contracts to help families start a dialogue and set reasonable boundaries.
  • For more tips and strategies for teaching their kids about the principles and purpose of advertising, and how to be alert for different forms of ads and marketing—check out CARU's Parents' Guide to Advertising.

The Children's Advertising Review Unit® (CARU®) was founded in 1974 to promote responsible children's advertising as part of a strategic alliance with the major advertising trade associations and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. CARU is the children's arm of the advertising industry's self-regulation system and evaluates child-directed advertising and promotional material in all media to advance truthfulness, accuracy and consistency with its Self-Regulatory Program for Children's Advertising and relevant laws. In addition, CARU is an FTC-approved COPPA Safe Harbor, which helps companies comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

This article originally appeared on www.bbb.org and was shared with permission.

BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit BBB.org for more information.

More stories you'll love