Protecting Children’s Internet Privacy

protection children's privacy

In a time where 75 percent of children in the U.S. have access to a smartphone and all kinds of social media apps, protecting their privacy is more necessary than ever. Kids are far more susceptible than adults and are targeted through profile information by scammers and predators.

Parents are usually worried about what their children are looking at online, but are they thinking about what others can see about their children? Before you let your children access the world of social media, make sure their privacy is protected.

When children are not protected online, they risk giving out personal information that may be stolen by thieves. While uneducated adults have a chance of having their identity stolen, children are 50 times more likely to have their social security number stolen by another person.

Protecting Children’s Privacy – A Guide for Parents, Carers and Educators” educates parents how to better protect children from online thefts by using settings on social media apps, accounts, and browsers.

In the article, it states:

One in 40 families has a child who is a victim of identity theft, according to the Identity Theft Assistance Center and the Javelin Strategy & Research Group, and that figure is on the rise. Kids make great targets for identity theft because they have clean slates with no blemishes on their credit report. Identity fraud can go on for years without notice, because kids have no need for credit until they are old enough to buy a car, rent an apartment, or take out loans for college. When that day comes, however, these young victims are in for a rude awakening.

children on phone

The government can only do so much, if anything, to protect online privacy. The 2000 Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act received a lot of criticism for its ineffectiveness in preventing children from entering pornography websites or being advertised to.

With most children being unaware of the dangers, parents need to take action in helping regulate their children’s private information on all social media platforms: Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, Vine, etc.

How Can You Protect Their Privacy?

The article suggests explaining to children the risks of not protecting their online privacy and to be transparent about your rules. Make an account on the same social media apps your children use and follow and friend them so you can safely monitor their accounts.

Avoiding games and quizzes on websites, like Facebook, that ask for access to profile information will also lessen the chances of third parties obtaining personal information.

Because most social media apps have privacy settings, it would be best to modify them to remove as much public profile information as possible — phone numbers, addresses, birthdays, schools, etc.

The article provides directions and explanations on how to use settings to protect social media accounts effectively. The article adds that front-facing cameras are known to have been hacked without the owner’s knowledge and should be covered with a sticker or electrical tape.

Adding parental control to your children’s devices can also decrease the chances of them purchasing games and apps that may run up the bill without your permission.

More Than Safety

While the article states the importance of protecting online privacy, it also explains the significance on children’s growth. Protecting them from endless advertisements and marketing may give them a chance to develop their own identity.

Julia Angwen explained in a Wall Street Journal article:

“They won’t have the freedom I had as a child to transform myself. In junior high school, for example, I wore only pink and turquoise. But when I moved across town for high school, I changed my wardrobe entirely and wore only preppy clothes with penny loafers. Nobody knew about my transformation because I left no trail, except a few dusty photographs in a shoebox in my parents’ closet. Try that in the age of Facebook.”

Parents should not allow the internet to mold their children “into a class of consumers limited to the online personas that they unknowingly helped to create.”

For a more thorough explanation and complete app-by-app guide on protecting children’s privacy online, visit the article, here.

For a really easy-to-follow guide in infographic form (always updated) go to this TigerMobile website.

Sugene loves to write, play and watch all sports, and spend time with family and friends. She graduated at BYU with a communications degree and is expecting a little girl in July.