Headlines about social media privacy concerns with Facebook are in the news as CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified before Congress on Tuesday.
But there’s another story that caught my eye – and this one involves your kids.
Earlier this week, consumer advocacy groups filed a complaint and asked the Federal Trade Commission to investigate YouTube for collecting and profiting off of data collected from children under the age 13, which would be a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
YouTube’s terms of services on its main site states that the company can collect information tied to user devices, location, browsing habits, phone number and more. Although parental consent is required to use the service if kids are under the age of 13, kids can lie about their age and a great deal of content on the YouTube’s main site is geared towards children.
We talk a lot about online safety when it comes to issues such as cyberbullying and pornography – but do you ever talk with your kids about privacy and the type of information they’re sharing?
It’s a good reminder of how important it is to have a collaborative relationship with your kids to teach, supervise and monitor their online use. Having regular “tech talks” and openly discussing what your children are experiencing online is essential.
Here are key recommendations to keep in mind during discussions with your kids:
- Not to give out their phone number, address or email to people online.
- Not to talk to strangers online. If someone is contacting them, they need to tell a trusted adult.
- Not to give out passwords to anyone, even close friends.
- Not to download any software on their own.
- Not to use their first or last name (or anything similar to it) when creating an online username.
- Make sure their social media settings are on highest privacy and explain why this is critical.
It’s also helpful to talk about sharing general rather than specific information when if they post videos or write posts. Sometimes, kids unintentionally reveal private things without intending to do so. It is best to leave specific identifying information off of videos or posts such as names of people, locations or signage that makes the location of something obvious.
Focus on the Family’s parenting team put together a helpful free guide for parents called A Parent’s Guide to Today’s Technology. The guide covers the brain and technology, video games, social media, hidden apps and cyberbullying and will help everyone in your family make smart decisions when it comes to smart phones and technology. I encourage you to download it today.
I’m curious – what kind of conversations are you having with your kids about using technology wisely?