As an active participant in the social media world I know the ins and outs of the internet, but as my kids get older and become more active online I have growing concern about their online safety. While I may be tech savvier than your average parent, I know there are plenty of ways for them to find to come across unsavory characters online, or have their online safety compromised. One way that kids at higher risk than ever is identity theft. As technology has grown at a rapid pace, so have ways for identities to be stolen.
I recently shared info about kID Sure, and we are still in the process of sorting some issues with my daughter’s credit report. I’ll update you when I have a full story, and can report on how to handle identity theft when your kids are victims. So far the process with Identity Guard has been easy, and they have been extremely helpful.
For now though, I want to share how we’ve discussed this with our kids, and the advice we’ve given them to keep their identity and online space safe.
For younger kids it’s best to keep it simple. Kids need to know that the important but personal information they know (address, phone number, and even passwords) are private and not to be shared with anyone other than their circle of trusted adults. If someone asks them for information about themselves, our house, etc. they should come to you before sharing that info. This sets young kids up for the idea that some information is private. Online safety also plays a role here-but is fairly easy to keep in check with parental passwords, and a lockdown on what sites they can visit online. There are plenty of ‘teachable’ moments when children sign up for accounts on places that require an online identity. We were first intro’ed to this with Webkinz which handily tells kids not to use their real names or share their passwords.
For kids older than 9, start the discussion about identity theft. It’s time to talk more seriously about online safety, and while you may lift some parental controls, you can’t allow them free reign online just yet.
For teens you need to get into the nitty gritty of the ‘net. An online safety contract can be designed to help them know their limitations. Rules about who they give their phone number out to, texting, and Facebook should be discussed. Sharing netiquette is key to helping them understand that their digital footprint can be a fun tool or be used against them as a weapon against them.
Some parents vary on this, but we feel strongly that monitoring internet history, texts, phone calls, and other avenues of digital connection are key to being good parents in the digital age. Using tools like Safely and BipperKids are great ways to stay connected to what your kids are doing online.
7 Easy Ways to Keep your Child’s Identity Safe
1. Sign up for identity and credit monitoring at Identity Guard. Their kIDsure program will help you monitor your children’s identities in one place for a low fee. For more info, or to sign up head over to identityguard.com.
2. Ensure all phones, computers, and other devices are password protected.
3. Keep sensitive data offline, or if it must be on your computer or shared-only share on your home network (which should also be password protected!).
4. If someone isn’t in your ‘circle’, don’t share important info with them
5. Use netiquette online, and etiquette offline-no texting mean messages, messing with other’s Facebook profiles, or sharing sensitive data.
6. Create a contract with your kids to help them understand your expectations for both offline and online activities.
7. Remember that being online is a privilege and not a right! If your child makes a mistake-make sure they understand the implications and enact a consequence.