Privacy for children in the world of oversharing

Three quarters of school children aged 10-12 have a social media account according to the report from the Children’s Commissioner. This is cause for concern as most social media platforms require a minimum age of 13 to sign up. The massive data breaches from the likes of Facebook and Google+ mean that the children who were already part of the platforms had their personal information compromised. As a parent, it's important to be knowledgeable about online privacy to keep your children safe.

Kids At Risk
A lot of children don’t really think about the consequences of sharing a lot of their personal information online. The data they share is public if their privacy settings are lax so basically, anyone can view it. Over 100 cases of online predators that target and groom children through social media were recorded in Warwickshire and West Midlands according to their local police organisations. As a parent to a young child using the net, it’s good to explain to them the dangers that exist on the web and promote healthy online habits like having strict privacy settings. If their age is below what’s needed to sign up, it’s best to come to an agreement of when it’s acceptable to have profiles.

Secure Devices and Networks
It all starts with the devices they use and the internet networks that are utilised to share the information. At any given moment, there are copious amounts of malicious software like keyloggers, ransomware, and even Trojan horses that sit and wait to gain access into the devices and computers. To help safeguard your family’s online privacy, it’s important to have secured networks and smart browsing practices. The use of strong anti-virus programs and a VPN can help you protect your devices and secure your personal information. Make sure that your child’s devices are secured as well.

Be Mindful What You Share
Kids are not the only ones that put their online privacy and security at risk. Proud parents like to share milestones of their children with friends on platforms like Facebook or Instagram. These seemingly innocuous pieces of shared details actually hold more data than you may realise. The metadata of the photo and video can contain the exact location of where the photo was taken. If you took them at home, the exact GPS coordinates of the location are in the metadata. Understandably, this poses a significant security risk for your children, your home, and yourself.

The use of the internet is necessary for school work so your kids will find their way to it one way or another. As a parent, it would be good to start early in helping your children learn and internalise the ways they can protect their own online privacy. It would also be prudent to be a role model and practise responsible net use, too.

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