Almost every American child and teen has access to the internet. They socialize in online games or on smartphones just as they would on a playground. They live largely in a digital community. But like any community, there are risks and dangers.
Yet many of them don’t know how oversharing personal information on social media can put them at risk. Cybersecurity experts have found that posting personal information can give hackers the tools they need to answer security questions and gain access to a victim’s profile.
Parents contribute in part to the “oversharing dilemma”. If a child has never been taught the risks of oversharing, they will just see it as normal. This is especially true when all of their friends do it. When adolescents see their friends tweeting their location and posting about their families on Facebook, they will likely behave the same way.
Internet safety for kids depends on parents being aware of online risks and understanding how to help their children and teens avoid them.
Time to have “the talk”
Setting clearly defined rules and explaining the reason for each rule and the hazard it protects against can help your child understand potential risks. Rules should aim to protect online privacy, safety and personal information.
Stopping dangerous activity can be challenging, because it means changing behavior. There are also so many different facets of online security that it can be overwhelming for a parent to research them (mobile gaming, social profiles, etc) before talking with their child about it.
One resource that can be helpful in sparking the conversation about oversharing is The Smart Talk website. This online resource was created as a collaboration between LifeLock and National PTA. LifeLock is the leading cybersecurity and identity theft management platform. National PTA is a non-profit devoted to youth welfare.
By taking the interactive quiz with their children, parents don’t have to worry about doing all of the research themselves. They simply answer the questions intended for them, while their children do the same. At the end, both parties have an agreement about online safety that they can follow, and a better understanding of all the risks.
If you’re not as interested in technological aids, you should focus on the biggest risk factors when talking with your child about oversharing online. Making sure to never give out your location is one. Using a different password for each account (with two-factor authentication whenever possible) is another.
Finally, make sure to cover the risks of accepting friend and network requests from people they don’t know.
Cyberbullying is fuelled by online oversharing and most Teens have been cyberbullied!
Nearly 60 percent of American teens report having been cyberbullied, according to the Pew Research Center. A majority also consider cyberbullying a major problem. Pew also found that teens believe teachers, social media platforms and politicians are failing at dealing with the problem.
Therefore, you should teach your children not only about how to respond to cyberbullying, but also how not to become a bully. Kids and teens socialize online and on their smartphones just like they do in person. Teach your child to behave online just as they would in person and the risk of cyberbullying goes down.
Hopefully these tips can help you and your family stay safe. Since the Equifax breach, it’s imperative for American families to be on top of their online security, and that starts with the children and adolescents who are sharing far more information on average than their parents.
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