Protecting Children in a Digital Age
SOURCE : FAMILY FEATURES # 15612 eeping a watchful eye on your kids requires an increasing level of tech savvy many parents find intimidating . Not only are your kids vulnerable to bad actors online , but your family ’ s personal information could be at risk , as well .
Learn how to protect your children and family in this digital age with these tips :
Elementary-Age Children Encourage open communication . Have conversations about what your kids see and do online and talk with them about potential dangers . Avoid lecturing in favor of an open exchange of information .
Make their inherent interest in privacy work in your favor . Kids in this age group , particularly toward the middle school years , understand the concept of privacy and value it immensely . Use that context to help them understand what goes online is there to stay . Talk about what kinds of information should always be kept private , including identifying details like addresses and social security numbers .
Stay on alert . Not all apps are completely safe ( even the ones you can access from trusted stores ) and not all filters are foolproof . Keep close tabs on what your kids are downloading by reading comments and reviews , and regularly monitoring what kind of content they see .
Middle School and High School Kids Continue talking about privacy . You can never have too many conversations about privacy . What seems like harmless sharing on social media can be quite revealing . For example , frequent posts about visits to a favorite store or restaurant can allow a predator to begin tracking behavior patterns that make your child a target . It ’ s also important for kids to understand how their privacy settings work . For example , settings that allow exposure to friends of friends make their visibility to strangers much broader than they may realize .
Help manage their online reputation . Behaviors that once resulted in a day or two of hallway chatter can now live forever . Documenting mischief online is only fun until it spills over into real life and everyone sees those mistakes in full color – including prospective future employers .
Be clear about your position on bullying . From the safe distance of a screen , it ’ s easier for kids ( and adults ) to say things they ’ d never say in person . Teach your kids to handle problems constructively offline and avoid engaging in attacks on others through social media , email and other platforms .
College Students Reinforce the risks . Once they ’ re on their own , kids may feel more liberated to make their own choices online . However , college students are easy prey for identity theft and worse . Remind them what ’ s at stake if they fail to protect their identity and private information , like where they live and what they do on a regular basis .
Teach smart practices . With all the independence that comes with college life , this is an ideal time for your student to take personal responsibility for his or her online security , including learning about virus protection , updating software , avoiding scams and backing up data . n
If you ’ re looking for more practical advice for everyday family matters , visit eLivingtoday . com .
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