When we were kids, staying safe was as simple as our parents saying, “Don’t talk to strangers.” Back then, there just weren’t as many ways that predators could learn about or come in contact with potential victims. Now, with kids going online at younger and younger ages, things are a bit more complicated. There are almost unlimited ways that children can run into predators in today’s online world.
Online safety for kids requires more than just not talking to strangers (although that’s a big part of it, too), and we should all take steps to protect our kids online. It’s vital that we teach our kids what they should and shouldn’t share online as well as the risks of sharing too much.
The Risks of Sharing Too Much Online
Every time we’re online, we add to our digital footprint, which tracks what we do on the Internet. The same applies to our kids. When they get online, they start to build their digital footprint. Any information they share can put them at risk of predators (both in-person and online), cyberbullies, and even reputation damage.
If kids share too much personal or identifying information online, predators can use it to locate or take advantage of them. If kids share things that are offensive, embarrassing, or inappropriate, it could affect their job or educational prospects in the future when a potential university or employer Googles the child’s name. Make sure your kids understand that everything posted online stays there forever, even if it’s taken down by the person who posted it.
What Kids Shouldn’t Share
So what should we teach our kids not to post online, no matter the circumstance? There are a few different categories:
- Don’t share location info, whether it’s your home address, where you are currently, or photos that could give away your location.
- Don’t share personal info, like birthdays, names of family numbers, or other information people could use to identify you.
- Don’t share intimate photos or videos. This advice may seem obvious, but it’s critical that our kids understand that anything they send (including over text) or post online can be screenshotted and shared, and inappropriate images could get them into serious trouble.
- Don’t share things that your future self might regret. This could be anything from being critical of others to making distasteful jokes. You might even recommend the grandma rule: not posting anything online that you wouldn’t want your grandma to see.
Make It a Partnership
As you teach your kids about digital privacy and what is safe to share online, remember to make it a partnership. At Troomi, you know we’re all about the parent-child relationship, and online privacy is no different. Instead of laying down a list of rules, try talking with your kids about the dangers of oversharing online and then work together to build a course of action. Start with the basics and teach them more as they get older. The Internet can be a dangerous place, but we can help keep our kids safe by partnering with them.