Tracking and profiling kids online — and selling their information to advertisers and data brokers — has quickly become widespread. The Wall Street Journal recently found that the top 50 websites for kids and teens installed 4,123 cookies and other tracking tools on a test computer — 30% more than were installed by the top 50 general sites.
It’s time to take action to protect kids’ privacy.
We need a “Do Not Track Kids” law. Policymakers must take action to protect kids’ and teens’ online privacy. Kids’ online behavior shouldn’t be tracked, and companies shouldn’t be allowed to sell or transfer kids’ personal information.
While their age helps youth easily adapt to new technologies, their immaturity also makes them more likely to unintentionally engage in risky behaviors or be targeted by other users, more often peers than strangers. For many young people, there is little divide between their “real world” and online selves. As a parent, consider doing the following:
- Remain positively engaged. Pay attention to and know the online environments your children use. Appreciate your children’s participation in their online communities and show interest in their friends. Try to react constructively when they encounter inappropriate material. Make it a teachable moment.
- Support their good choices. Expand your children’s online experience and their autonomy when developmentally appropriate, as they demonstrate competence in safe and secure online behavior and good decision making.
- Protect your hardware. Safety and security start with protecting all family computers. Install a security suite (antivirus, antispyware, and a firewall) that is set to update automatically. Keep your operating system, Web browser, and other software current as well, and back up computer files on a regular basis.
- Know the protection features of the Web sites and software your children use. Your Internet service provider (ISP) may have tools to help you manage young children’s online experience (e.g., selecting approved Web sites, monitoring the amount of time they spend online, or limiting the people who can contact them) and may have other security features, such as pop-up blockers. Third-party tools are also available. But remember that your home isn't the only place they can go online.
- Review the privacy settings of social networking sites, cell phones, and other social tools your children use. Decide together which settings provide the appropriate amount of protection for each child.
- Teach critical thinking. Help your children identify safe, credible Web sites and other digital content, and be cautious about clicking on, downloading, posting, and uploading content.
- Explain the implications. Help your children understand the public nature of the Internet and its risks as well as its benefits. Be sure they know that any digital info they share, such as emails, photos, or videos, can easily be copied and pasted elsewhere, and is almost impossible to take back. Things that could damage their reputation, friendships, or future prospects should not be shared electronically.
- Help them be good digital citizens. Remind your children to be good “digital friends” by respecting personal information of friends and family and not sharing anything about others that is potentially embarrassing or hurtful.
- Just saying “no” rarely works. Teach your children how to interact safely with people they "meet" online. Though it's preferable they make no in-person contact with online-only acquaintances, young people may not always follow this rule. So talk about maximizing safe conditions: meeting only in well-lit public places, always taking at least one friend, and telling a trusted adult about any plans they make – including the time, place, and acquaintance’s contact information (at least a name and cell phone number). Remind them to limit sharing personal information with new friends.
- Empower your children to handle problems, such as bullying, unwanted contact, or hurtful comments. Work with them on strategies for when problems arise, such as talking to a trusted adult, not retaliating, calmly talking with the person, blocking the person, or filing a complaint. Agree on steps to take if the strategy fails.
- Encourage your children to be “digital leaders.” Help ensure they master the safety and security techniques of all technology they use. Support their positive and safe engagement in online communities. Encourage them to help others accomplish their goals. Urge them to help if friends are making poor choices or being harmed.
Thanks again to StaySafeOnline.org for the tips!
ScamBusters is helpful public service designed to spread information about the latest and more pervasive Internet-based scams. They also offer a weekly newsletter, should you wish to stay up to date on the latest threats.
Courtesy of StaySafeOnline.org, here are some wonderful tips to keep you safe on social networks.
- Privacy and security settings exist for a reason: Learn about and use the privacy and security settings on social networks. They are there to help you control who sees what you post and manage your online experience in a positive way.
- Once posted, always posted: Protect your reputation on social networks. What you post online stays online. Think twice before posting pictures you wouldn’t want your parents or future employers to see. Recent research (http://www.microsoft.com/privacy/dpd/research.aspx) found that 70% of job recruiters rejected candidates based on information they found online.
- Your online reputation can be a good thing: Recent research (http://www.microsoft.com/privacy/dpd/research.aspx) also found that recruiters respond to a strong, positive personal brand online. So show your smarts, thoughtfulness, and mastery of the environment.
- Keep personal info personal: Be cautious about how much personal information you provide on social networking sites. The more information you post, the easier it may be for a hacker or someone else to use that information to steal your identity, access your data, or commit other crimes such as stalking.
- Protect your hardware: Safety and security start with protecting computers. Install a security suite (antivirus, antispyware, and firewall) that is set to update automatically. Keep your operating system, Web browser, and other software current as well and back up computer files on a regular basis.
- Know and manage your friends: Social networks can be used for a variety of purposes. Some of the fun is creating a large pool of friends from many aspects of your life. That doesn’t mean all friends are created equal. Use tools to manage the information you share with friends in different groups or even have multiple online pages. If you’re trying to create a public persona as a blogger or expert, create an open profile or a “fan” page that encourages broad participation and limits personal information. Use your personal profile to keep your real friends (the ones you know trust) more synched up with your daily life.
- Be honest if you’re uncomfortable: If a friend posts something about you that makes you uncomfortable or you think is inappropriate, let them know. Likewise, stay open-minded if a friend approaches you because something you’ve posted makes him or her uncomfortable. People have different tolerances for how much the world knows about them respect those differences. Post only about others as you would have them post about you.
- Now what action to take: If someone is harassing or threatening you, remove them from your friends list, block them, and report them to the site administrator.
- Use strong passwords: Make sure that your password is long, complex and combines, letters, numerals, and symbols. Ideally, you should use a different password for every online account you have. If you need to write down your password to remember it, store it somewhere away from your computer.
- Be cautious about messages you receive on social networking sites that contain links. Even links that look they come from friends can sometimes contain malware or be part of a phishing attack (attempts to collect personal information: logon and password and other indentifying information by pretending to be a message form a friend or a business). If you are suspicious, don’t click contact your friend or the business directly to verify the validity.
Facebook worked with the National Cyber Security Alliance, the Anti-Phishing Working Group, and the Stop. Think. Connect. public awareness campaign on this security quiz.
Do your part by taking the quiz and testing your knowledge. Once you're done, post a badge to your Wall and share tips with your friends so they can be more secure as well.
This is a wonderful opportunity to see what you know. Spread the word about cyber security to all your Facebook friends!
Here is a clip from CNBC discussing cyber security and the new level of sophistication needed to projtect companies from hack attacks, with Joe Sullivan, Facebook chief security officer.
The Cyberbullying Research Center is dedicated to providing up-to-date information about the nature, extent, causes, and consequences of cyberbullying among adolescents. Cyberbullying can be defined as “Willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” It is also known as “cyber bullying,” “electronic bullying,” “e-bullying,” “sms bullying,” “mobile bullying,” “online bullying,” “digital bullying,” or “Internet bullying.”
This web site serves as a clearinghouse of information concerning the ways adolescents use and misuse technology. It is intended to be a resource for parents, educators, law enforcement officers, counselors, and others who work with youth. Here you will find facts, figures, and detailed stories from those who have been directly impacted by online aggression. In addition, the site includes numerous resources to help you prevent and respond to cyberbullying incidents.
The Federal Trade Commission has released this handy list detailing a few things that you can do to help ensure that you don't become the victim of internationl fraud on the Internet. It's a very handy resource and a good read for anyone wishing to know more about the subject.
Children present unique security risks when they use a computer — not only do you have to keep them safe, but you have to protect their data on your computer. By taking some simple steps, you can dramatically reduce the threats.
Keep your computer in a central and open location in your home and be aware of other computers your child may be using. Discuss and set guidelines/rules for use with your children. Post these rules by the computer as a reminder.
- Use the Internet with your children. Familiarize yourself with your children's online activities and maintain a dialogue with your child about what applications they are using.
- Implement parental control tools that are provided by some ISPs and available for purchase as separate software packages. Remember - No program is a substitute for parental supervision. Also, you may be able to set some parental controls within your browser. Internet Explorer allows you to restrict or allow certain web sites to be viewed on your computer, and you can protect these settings with a password. To find those options, click Tools on your menu bar, select Internet Options, choose the Content tab, and click the Enable button under Content Advisor.
- Consider software that allows you to monitor your children's email and web traffic.
- Consider partitioning your computer into separate accounts - Most operating systems (including Windows XP, Mac OS X, and Linux) give you the option of creating a different user account for each user. If you're worried that your child may accidentally access, modify, and/or delete your files, you can give him/her a separate account and decrease the amount of access and number of privileges he/she has.
- Know who your children's online friends are and supervise their chat areas.
- Teach your children never to give out personal information to people they meet online such as in chat rooms or bulletin boards.
- Know who to contact if you believe your child is in danger. Visit www.getnetwise.org for detailed information. If you know of a child in immediate risk or danger, call law enforcement immediately. Please report instances of online child exploitation to the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children's Cyber Tipline. Even though children may have better technical skills, don't be intimidated by their knowledge. Children still need advice, guidance, and protection. Keep the lines of communication open and let your child know that you can be approached with any questions they may have about behaviors or problems encountered on the computer.
Thanks to StaySafeOnline.org for these tips!