It was easier to parent before the internet. It still wasn’t easy, of course, there have always been ample things to worry about when it comes to our kids. However, with the growing popularity of social media among children and teens as well as frequent online activity, it’s important to discuss the risks of sharing too much.
Having an open dialogue with your children about being online is the key to providing them with the tools to navigate the internet safely.
These 10 key points can help you explain to your children how, when and what to share and what to keep private.
1. Explain to them the way that information they share can be used, such as for unsolicited sales or in academic applications. Having this knowledge will help them to understand the consequences of sharing too much.
2. Discuss that by sharing things that are private, they are exposing themselves to risk. For example, if you only include required information in your profiles and leave as much as possible blank, there is less information available to collect.
3. Talk about what your family values as private information. Set boundaries with your children when it comes to the specific things your family feels are off-limits for sharing online.
4. Tell them not to allow applications to track their locations.
5. Teach them to think before they provide. Is this service or website asking too much personal information? Do they need all of this to manage my account? Could this information be used to harm me or my family?
6. Make sure they read the entire site before plugging in their info by explaining to them that a service can possibly share their information with others.
7. Let them know that there’s no going back with many sites—once they’ve shared, they may lose their rights to the information, photos etc.
8. Be proactive by teaching your children the value of strong and unique passwords.
9. Utilize strict privacy settings on their accounts and let them know the value in doing so.
10. Discuss the importance of boundaries and show them when, where and how much emotional sharing is appropriate.
By explaining these things to your children as soon as they begin to explore the internet, you are protecting them from risks to their safety. The sooner they understand the vastness of the online world, they can grasp the reality of the dangers of over-sharing. The internet is a wonderful, educational and interesting community—when used properly.
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