As parents, it's crucial we educate our children about the dangers of sharing personal information online. Kids are spending more and more time online, making it more important than ever to teach them about online safety and data privacy. In this article, we’ll discuss what counts as personal information, why it's vital to keep that information private online, and what to do if your child accidentally shares personal data. We'll also provide discussion starters for talking to your kids about the importance of online privacy.
“Personal information” can mean many different things, especially to your kids, who may have never before come across the topic. The list below is a summary of different types of personal information that your child should know is private and sensitive. Take the time to go through this list item by item to ensure your child understands each one well:
Keep in mind that personal information doesn’t only include text-based information. It can also include pictures or videos that reveal personal information, such as school uniforms, street signs, or house numbers.
Even seemingly innocent information, like the name of your child's school or their city of residence, can be used to piece together a picture of their life and whereabouts. Knowing how to protect personal information online can prevent identity theft and other data breaches.
Children between the ages of 8 and 14 are still developing their understanding of the digital world and need to be made aware of the risks of sharing personal information online. Personal information, such as your name, address, phone number, or birthdate, can be used to steal your identity or commit fraud. Sharing this information on the internet can also make it easier for strangers to find and contact your child, which can put them at risk.
Additionally, posting certain information or pictures online can have long-term consequences. For instance, a future employer may search for your child online during the hiring process. If there are pictures on the internet of them at a raucous party, for example, it may jeopardize their job possibilities. By keeping personal information private, your child can protect themselves and their future.
If your child accidentally shares personal information online, it's essential to address the situation quickly. Encourage your child to delete the post or message and to change any usernames and passwords they may have shared.
Gently remind your child that it's important to think before sharing anything. Additionally, remind your child that even if they delete a post, it doesn't mean the information is gone forever. People can take screenshots or share the information. Make sure your child understands this point: Once something is posted online, it's there forever.
The good news is there are tangible steps your child can take to protect their personal information online. Here are some tips for parents to help their child practice online safety:
It's also a good idea to chat with your child about what they're sharing online. Ask them to show you their social media accounts and explain what they're posting and why. This can be a great opportunity to teach them about the importance of privacy and identify potential issues with their online behavior.
It isn’t always easy broaching topics of safety, both in the real world and online, with your child. Here is a list of questions and discussion starters about how to behave online and the importance of not sharing sensitive information:
By starting these conversations with your child, you can help them understand how to protect personal information online and equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to stay safe. Remember, the most crucial part of protecting personal information is knowing what is being shared, and with whom. With these tips and discussion starters, you can help your child navigate the digital world safely and responsibly.