Protecting Children’s Online Privacy In The Digital Age

Online surfing offers a wealth of information which is readily available at one’s fingertips. But in the case of children, the web can just as easily become a dangerous space. There are various laws in the U.S. to help protect children online, though whether the laws are doing enough, is debatable.

The Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA), for instance, ensures schools use online filters to prevent children from accessing harmful content over the web, as well as monitor online chats. The Children’s Online Privacy Act (COPPA) also set certain guidelines for sites which target children.

But as often happens, kids can easily lie about their age and register for sites they are too young for. Facebook, for instance, require users to be age 13 and up to create an account, yet, according to ComScore, 3.6 million Facebook users in the US are under the age of twelve.

Another concern is the fact that identities can be hidden online, so if one does interact with a dangerous cyber predator, there is a lack of accountability.

For parents, keeping informed on the trends and changes taking place in the digital are the best way to empower your young ones to keep safe online.

Here are some tips:

KEEP INFORMED

New platforms emerge regularly with different ways for users to exchange information online. Read up on the popular apps and look out for any dangers. While SnapChat, for instance, hangs on to images for ten seconds on its platform, users can take a screenshot of the image to make it available permanently.

PRIVACY SETTINGS

Continue to check, and accordingly adjust, the privacy settings on the sites your child uses. To acquire more traffic, some users may be more lenient with their privacy on photo-sharing sites like Instagram. Before sharing those selfies, however, remember that it too is a public space. Stolen photo reports like this one have made some parents think twice before sharing their child’s images online.

WEBCAM SPIES

Webcam-hacking stories have been emerging more and more as of late. This Canadian couple were recently spied on in their bedroom while streaming a video on Netflix. Webcam hacking is a scary reality.

OPEN DIALOGUE

Of course, there are plenty of apps available to track your child’s digital actions. But having an open discussion about online safety rules, such as knowing how much is too much information to be sharing on social media, is the best way to ensure your child is equipped to keep smart on the web.

Law-makers are still grappling with how to keep their policies up to date within the changing digital-scape. Some school boards, for instance, are only now discovering that student information can be unknowingly shared with marketers. Legislators still have a long way to go, but meanwhile, parents can take their own proactive steps to be informed and help their children keep safe online.

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