The talk all parents should have with their children, and preferably more than once – rules and guidelines for staying safe and guarding your privacy online.
Many apps, websites and all social networks used by children encourage the habit of sharing information – talking to other people, seeing their videos and photos and showing them your own. Since remembering to withhold private information is something even many adults have problems with, it’s no surprise children need some extra guidance and constant reminders to “Stay safe out there and don’t share private info”.
Many apps have their own privacy settings, which parents should check out if their children are using them. We have our more specific guides for Instagram, Snapchat, Yubo, Amino and Kik. But it’s also important to talk to children about more general rules and guidelines that’ll help them preserve their privacy on their profiles, in private chat or public groups.
Talking to your child about online privacy
Find a time both you and your child have some time to talk, and bring up the subject. Tell your child that although many people online are honest and well-intentioned, there are also many who are not.
Your son or daughter should be aware that what they post or publish online might reach people who could use that content inappropriately. For example – to send it to other people without their consent, or even awareness.
Tell your child it’s possible to avoid that. First, make sure they know about basic online safety, most importantly – to never post personal identifying information, such as an address or a phone number, where it can be seen by strangers. There are many ways in which this type of information can be used inappropriately. A good rule of thumb is – don’t publicly post anything you wouldn’t tell a stranger.
And second – be suspicious. If anyone your child encounters online appears suspicious or unreliable, they should trust their gut feeling and avoid that person.
For younger children – go over the safety settings of the apps they’re using together. Make sure they’re not revealing their location, or any other personal information to strangers, or even friends.
For teens – ask them if they know about their apps’ privacy settings, and if they checked them recently. Ask them to do so, and make sure they know what they’re sharing, and with whom.
Parental monitoring apps
Finally, if you’re at all concerned about online privacy and setting, consider using Jiminy.
Jiminy is an app that helps parents, by sending them information about what’s happening in their child’s phone. Jiminy sends parents alerts when something goes wrong, but also gives them the baseline for their child’s phone habits – which apps they’re using the most (useful for when you want to check those apps’ privacy settings), their top interests when browsing the web, their closest contacts and much more.
You can get Jiminy here.