In an age of social media, online gaming, and apps like Foursquare, sharing information about yourself can be as easy as a few clicks of the mouse or cell phone. So, when it comes to letting your kids online, are they sharing too much? Before the next time your kiddo surfs the Internet, make sure your kids know the seven things they shouldn't share online.
What kids online may be sharing
We live in an age of information sharing, where our social world has gone digital. That being said, our children are more at risk of exposing themselves to harm, starting with the personal tidbits they plant online. Although many games and sites geared towards kids in online communities have built in safeguards, such as safe chat modes preventing personal information sharing, it's still important to drive home the info your youngster should keep private. Advise your children to avoid providing the following information in any form when playing online:
- Full name. Have your kiddo choose a screen name that does not include their real first or last name to maintain privacy
- School name. Prevent kids from revealing the name of their schools, even when chatting online
- Personal address. Warn against sharing your home address, city or even state to anyone online
- Email address. Keep your youngster from giving out his email address -- although seemingly harmless, it could open him up to cyber bullying
- Phone number. Restrict who your child gives his cell phone number to as well as who he texts -- cyber bullying can happen via your kid's mobile phone, too
- Current location. Caution your child against using check-in applications on their Facebook and Twitter pages that tag his whereabouts, which can be via his computer or cell phone app
- Clues to future locations. Don't tip off others as to where they will be and when, even if it's a public place. To reduce the chance of cyber stalking, or worse, abduction
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Safety tips for sharing information
Some information is okay to share online, but online phishing scams and cyber predators make it tough to let the leash out when it comes to your kids roaming the Internet. Here are some safeguards to teach your child to help ensure she is safely surfing:
- Explain that sharing information or photos with one person makes private information public -- she cannot control what happens to her information once she gives it to someone else.
- Check her privacy setting on Facebook, MySpace and other social media channels to ensure your youngster's information is only viewable by friends.
- Consider investing in programs that teach Internet safety.
- Never send photos to anyone she hasn't met face-to-face.
The best thing you can do to minimize your child's exposure on the Internet is to monitor her computer usage and lay out some ground rules. "Web Wise Kids strongly believes that Internet safety education is the most effective way to resolve and mitigate problems and dangers relating to misuse of the Internet and other new media," said Web Wise Kids CEO Judi Westberg-Warren. Although the world wide web can be a scary place, it can also be tons of fun as long as you teach your children the seven things your kids shouldn't share online.
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