Are You Risking Your Children’s Privacy Online? Here’s 10 Ways to Teach Them to Protect It!

May 15 to 21 is Privacy Awareness Week. If you’re asking why we need a whole week to focus on privacy issues, take a look at Facebook, Instagram or anything else online and you’ll have your answer.

Whether you’re posting pics of the kids at play, on holiday or they have their own social media accounts, helping your children to understand the importance of privacy and the Internet is essential.

Mr. Timothy Pilgrim, Australian Privacy Commissioner notes, “While online environments allow young Australians the opportunity to express themselves and build their identity, sharing personal information online is not without risks.”

With that in mind, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) has issued 10 tips for to support your child’s Internet privacy.

What can you do to keep your kids’ information private?

  1. Talk to your children. The OAIC suggests that parents start a privacy conversation with their children in order to help them understand how to protect their personal information. This also includes talking to your kids about how and when to report suspicious behaviour online, such as people that they don’t know in ‘real-life’ contacting them.
  2. Get involved. It seems like there’s a new app, game or type of technology every day. Getting to know what your child is doing online helps you to keep her safe and keep her information private.
  3. Read all of those privacy policies. You see the policies pop up when you (or your child) creates some sort of new account. The same goes for the collection notices. Before clicking continuing, stop and actually read the notice in front of you. It spells out exactly how the website/company collects and uses your information. Reading these notices with your child helps her to see what information is being collected – even if she doesn’t see it going on.
  4. Tailor the privacy settings. Every time your child is online her information may be up for grabs. Cookies collect data and webcams/voice recorders may even capture what your child is doing and saying – without her even realising it. The tighter the privacy settings are, the more control you have over who is seeing what your child writes and does online. Adding parental controls also provides an extra layer of safety.
  5. Create good practices when it comes to passwords. From the start, let your child know how to develop quality passwords. Passwords are the gatekeepers to your child’s information. Make sure that you, and your child, aren’t using easily identifiable passwords (such as a birthday or a grandparent’s name).
  6. Talk about what a digital footprint is. Your child clicks on delete. Her information, pictures and posts are gone – right? Wrong! Kids need to know that what they do online leaves behind traces, and that this happens even if they think that they erase it. From sharing on social media to passing along a friend’s information, your child needs to know how data moves on the Internet, where it goes and how to keep it safe.
  7. Thinking before sharing. Private information needs to remain private. It’s easy for children to think that giving her phone number or address to a supposed ‘friend’ online isn’t such a big deal. But, it is – and she needs to understand what can happen if she shares before thinking about the consequences.
  8. Strive for safe mobile use. Laptops and tablets aren’t the only places where your child is sharing information online. Take time to stress the importance of safe smart phone use (including apps, social media and the Internet browser). The OAIC suggests putting passcode or pin locks on your child’s mobile devices as a way to protect her privacy.
  9. Understand online advertising. A seemingly informational post may actually be an ad. You might have the ability to spot this, but does your child? Explain that there are different types of advertising online, including pop-up ads, sidebar ads, sponsored posts and more.
  10. Emphasise that help is always here. Your child needs to feel like she can come to you when she has a problem or issue online. Tell her that she can ask you questions or talk to you about Internet insults any time that she needs.

Even though Privacy Awareness Week is only seven days long, you don’t have to stop stressing Internet information issues when it’s done. Use this initiative as a starting point to begin a lifetime of online safety strategies!

Avatar of Belinda Jennings

Belinda's a passionate advocate for community and connection. As the founder of the Mum Central Network she’s committed to celebrating the journey that is Australian parenthood. Mum to two cheeky boys, and wife to her superstar husband, they live a busy but crazy lifestyle in Adelaide. Great conversation, close friends and good chocolate are her chosen weapons for daily survival. Oh, and bubbles. Champagne is key.

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