The Five Biggest Threats to Your Kids’ Internet Privacy

For the longest time we’ve been threatened with: “stop it, or it will go on your permanent record”. First, it was your teacher in school when you were being disorderly; in your adult-life, it is the laws of society that keep you from doing bad for fear of being incarcerated.

In 2014, it is very difficult to not leave a digital trail, whether you are a child or a fully grown adult. From the moment you start breathing, you are generating data that is used and collected by Internet companies and government agencies; all without your knowledge. Different countries have different rules governing the collection of data from children, but despite all these efforts files are still be created about children; your children. Google can be capturing their search histories, grandparents tagging your children on Facebook, advertisers creating profiles of your children, including their likes and dislikes. Some of this data capturing is anonymous, while others aren’t.

What is a parent to do? Short of employing an information blackout for your children, we share a few tricks to thwart the threat of your child becoming big, fat targets for data-hungry websites:

Every website you visit collects data about you. You can either live with this fact or, in the instance of your children, circumvent it. Data brokers are always on hand to collect your information from a number of different sources and come up with a detailed profile – including how much money you make; sexual preferences; religious beliefs; etc. Separate your online personality from your reality. How do you do this? Simple: urge your kids to use fake names when creating profiles on the internet. These names should be changed every so often. This why, you circumvent data brokers defining your children before they’ve had the chance to do themselves. It’s not a one-type-fits-all kind of solution, but it is better than the alternative – data brokers running amok with your children’s data.

Other forms of tracking include tracking cookies. These small files are left behind on your PC by advertising sites, and in turn can be used to create profiles. What purpose do these cookies serve? They anonymously track and record the sites you visit and place ads based o products they think you may be interested in. Ghostery, is the answer you are looking for. It is a free browser plug-in that removes tracking cookies from your computer.

Be on the alert for phishing emails. These are a good way for scammers to get your child’s identity and commit all sorts of fraud, before being found out. Use stronger passwords and make sure your children are aware of the phishing phenomenon. Password generation tools like Diceware can also be utilised to produce complex passwords that are almost impossible to guess.

The wrong picture, posted at the wrong time can be the cause of unbearable torment for your child. These days, parents shy away from posting images of their children online. While controlling other people’s actions with images with our children in them, may prove difficult; it is best to ensure that, if your child’s image is posted on Facebook, it is not tagged so identifying your off-spring becomes that much harder.

Increasingly common, Malware allows cyber undesirables to remotely operate webcams. A simple solution to this is simply taping over your webcam when not in use.

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