Children are literally growing up “connected.” New social media services pop up like weeds and there is an ever-increasing number of apps and games that connect online. Additionally, many schools are migrating to cloud services, such as Google Drive, and require work to be submitted online. While this connected lifestyle has benefits, there are also risks to your child’s safety. We will explore three common risk areas and what you can do to help your children stay safe.
- Conduct: The lack of physical presence can create a powerful sense of anonymity. This may lead kids to act differently that would in real life.
- Contact: The lack of physical presence often causes kids to forget that the individual on the other end may not be who they say they are or may not have their best interests in mind.
- Content: The most popular social media sites focus on ways to capture and post content online, including messages, photos and videos. The temptation for children to “out-post” others or over-share information about themselves is very real and they often do it without realizing the consequences. Children may not realize that publicly posting personal information can lead to identity theft or malware infection.
- Safety at Home: Educate your children about safe online behavior and closely monitor online activity.
- Safety Outside the Home: Emphasize to your children that they should use the same etiquette they use at home when online at school or anywhere else.
- Online Etiquette: Remember what they say online could go viral or be published in your local newspaper. Educate your children to evaluate their intended comments or postings in this light. “Would you want what you are about to post to be published in the newspaper for all to see and know that you said it?”
- Use parental controls: Many web browsers and mobile phones offer robust features to block objectionable or dangerous content. Third party web-filtering software is also an option.
- Run malware protection software: Malware protection can provide protection from ‘drive-by’ or otherwise misleading downloads, which children may be tempted to click on.