I teach a class for parents called, “Kids and Mobile Devices: What Parents Need to Know.” With new apps, websites, and ways to communicate popping up daily, it can be difficult for parents to stay abreast of what their children are doing on their mobile devices. Even seemingly harmless apps and sites can draw online predators who want to infiltrate and exploit.
One question that always comes up in my class is, “How can I keep my kids safe online?” The first step is to check your child’s phone, computer or tablet on a regular basis to make sure no one is sending them inappropriate content. But there are other steps parents need to take to protect their children. By following these simple guidelines, you can help make sure online predators are not targeting your child.
Keep Personal Details Private
If an app or website requires your child to fill out a profile, do not let them enter personally identifying details like their full name, birthdate, age or address. One common mistake parents make is allowing their children to create a username that incorporates their name, information about their age and location or interests. These small pieces of data are enough for a predator to start piecing together a profile of a child and give predators tools that can be used to find more information to manipulate kids
Use Different Usernames
Just like recycling a password is a bad idea, using a common username to log into different online accounts can be problematic. Having one common username across accounts just makes it easier for criminals to search for and find details about a child’s life.
Create Unique Email Addresses
To take this theme a bit further, you should also create unique email addresses each site or app. Some email providers including Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo allow users to alter their email address into an infinite number of disposable addresses. Creating new addresses keeps your child’s actual email address private and can help stop criminals from being able to track online history simply by searching for an email address. This technique is cumbersome and time-consuming, but it adds an additional layer of protection for your child.
Constantly Monitor Activity
Regularly checking what apps your child is using and what websites are being visited is the first line of defense. If anything looks suspicious or if you are unsure what something is, ask your child. If the content or communication is inappropriate, remove it and block the app, e-mail address, or phone number.
Report Unusual Activity
If you believe your child has been targeted by an online predator, report the activity to the authorities and contact the website or app where the infraction occurred. Most online providers have a way to report abuse and deal with the situation. You can also report the issue to your mobile provider or internet service.
For more information about protecting your security and privacy online, visit: www.sndr.com.
Join the conversation:How do you protect your kids’ devices and keep them safe online?