Hi socialites! I’m going to be a little candid here and say that being a mother, while wonderful and rewarding, can also be really nerve-wracking! It’s amazing how my little girl has quickly become the center of my life, and how ensuring her happiness, well-being, and safety are top priorities for me. And believe me, I worry about her safety more than I would like to. With the recent upticks in school shootings, kidnappings, and child abuse, it is absolutely vital that we have preventative measures in place to protect our children at all times.
As I shared in this post, my little girl, although only 2 years old, uses our phones and tablets quite a bit to view education apps, or watch videos on YouTube. I have to ensure that we have the appropriate internet safety precautions in place so that she is not accidentally exposed to violent or pornographic material while innocently scrolling through videos. Keeping your child safe on the internet has to be a top priority among parents, no matter the age of the child. According to LifeLock, a premium identity theft protection company, children are especially at risk of identity theft, cyberbullying, and cyberstalking.
Believe it or not, children are at risk of identity theft. No, it’s not likely that someone would assume their whole identity, but children have clean credit history, and if someone gets a hold of their social security number, and other identifying information, they can use the info to open up accounts, credit cards, etc. The worst part? It will often go undetected, until the child is of legal age and realizes that they have negatives or unknown history on their credit report. Check out the Tech Tips in the info-graphic above for more ways on how to protect your child from identity theft.
Social media. It’s fun, it’s addicting, it can even be an empowering money making tool…but it can be hell for kids who are victims of cyberbullying. Back in my day, the only thing that could ruin your day was to be the subject of a paper note passed around a classroom. Today, the scenario is far bleaker. One simple prank, mean message, or private photo could be circulated around an entire school (heck, even a small town) with the push of a finger, and the results can be disastrous (think: more school shootings). As you can see from the info-graphic, cyberbullying is becoming more and more common, and as parents, we have to take steps to protect our children from being bullied, and ensure that they are not participating in bullying others.
Cyberstalking is such a scary concept, and children are particularly at risk of encountering predators online, and giving them too much information, which can then be used to stalk, harass, or potentially harm your child. It’s important that you talk with your child about the dangers of disclosing personal information online, and the importance of informing a parent when they feel someone is crossing a line with them.
What Can You Do?
Here are some of the ways that you can join in the fight of keeping your child safe on the internet.
1. Sign up for an Identity Protection Monitoring Service. I’ve been a member of LifeLock for a while, as part of their credit and identity theft monitoring plan, so I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they also have an Identity Theft Protection Plan just for kids: LifeLock Junior™. With plans starting at just $5.99 per month, you can ensure that your child has identity theft protection, dark web monitoring, credit file detection, and stolen funds reimbursement! You can’t put a price on the safety of your child, but I’d say that this price is right!
2. Start discussing online safety at an early age. I often joke that children come out of the womb these days knowing how to use smartphones and navigate the internet. While this is a funny thought, there is truth to the fact that children are exposed to technology at earlier ages, and can therefore be exposed to hidden dangers. Start teaching your kids early that online activity parallels the real world, and there is safe and unsafe activity out there. Instruct children to use passwords (full sentences if possible…something easy for them to remember, but difficult for a stranger to hack) and to notify you immediately if anything seems strange.
3. Teach your child that “stranger danger” is real online as well. We teach our children not to open the door for strangers, or to get in cars with strangers. The same dangers exist online when children open up emails from strange senders, or read messages from unknown users. Encourage children not to open up emails, messages, or accept social media friend requests from people they do not know.
4. Monitor your child’s internet accounts. You’re the parent, and are likely the one paying for your child’s phone, devices, and internet access, so you have every right to monitor every keystroke, email, picture, or DM sent by your child! If you are adhering to rule number 3, you have to take the next step and ensure that your child is not opening messages or accepting unknown friend requests. If they are, make sure they know the dangers of cyberstalking. If you see anything suspicious on their accounts, notify the proper authorities. Be your child’s friend on ALL of their social media profiles, so that you can have access to their friends list and monitor for suspicious activity.
5. Documentation is key! If your child is being cyberbullied or cyberstalked, do NOT delete any evidence, no matter how inappropriate or ugly the subject matter. Download and print any and all photos, messages, or screenshots so that you can inform school administration, and/or the appropriate law enforcement authority if needed.
Will you be able to always ensure your child’s total and complete safety online? Likely not, unless you ban all electronics from your home, but by following the tips above, or by enrolling in protection plans you can have a lot more piece of mind!
See you next time!