Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Oct. 23, 2013

Protecting Your Privacy Online

Blogger, Internet Keep Safe Coalition

Have you ever found yourself skimming over a website’s privacy policy, skipping almost instinctively to the bottom of the page, neglecting the novel of jargon-ridden text, just so you can check the “I Agree” box and be on your way? I know I’m guilty. The truth is, in a digital world that emphasizes expediency and ease, the I Agree anecdote has become commonplace, and now many Internet users are handing in their privacy for convenience.

It’s true, most privacy policies are arduous, laden with complicated speech to confuse and confound, but reading through these policies is important so you know what you’re getting. Many websites will track your movement online using cookies, and then sell the information to third parties for a myriad of purposes such as targeted advertising.

So, before you go clicking every checkbox you come across, ask yourself, “Do I really want to share this information with others?”

When it comes to protecting your online privacy, remember these points:

  • Personalize privacy settings where personal information may be shared, such as social media platforms.
  • Install security software to protect against malware and viruses. Set it up so that it automatically updates.
  • Always use strong, unique passwords.
  • Never take online surveys or quizzes. The purpose of these is to collect information about you, including sites you have visited and your IP address.
  • Check out a site/app’s rating before using it. Is it reputable? Only download apps with strong trust ratings.
  • Enable private browsing on your search engine, so that information from the sites you have visited cannot be tracked.
  • Always read the Privacy Policy—avoid sites that require you to share more information than you’re comfortable with.

Adults, while you are always free to consent to which information you will share online, your child’s online privacy should be more carefully safeguarded. Young children are often targeted by cyber criminals for their social security numbers, which are unused and can be linked with any name or birthdate. Keeping your child’s social security number private is the most important factor in reducing the risk for identity theft. Before giving out a SSN, verify that the information is absolutely necessary.

Another important step to protecting your child’s privacy online is distinguishing between public and private information. Talk with your children about which material is appropriate to share online and which is not. There is certain information that youth should never share online including phone numbers, home address, password information (even with friends) and offensive or sexually suggestive images.

As a parent, you recognize the importance of your child’s privacy. It’s so important that it’s one of the six pillars of the BEaPRO™ index. These pillars are: Balance, Ethics, Privacy, Reputation, Relationships, and Online Privacy—and they are all necessary for successful digital citizenship.

Learn more about protecting your child’s privacy with iKeepSafe’s BEaPRO™ Parent app and access a breadth of resources by visiting iKeepSafe.org/BEaPROParent.

Our digital devices are incredible; they allow us to connect with friends and colleagues, share our achievements and conduct business. Using the Internet in these productive ways facilitates daily tasks and makes life more enjoyable, but we should never have to surrender our privacy in exchange.

Cover image courtesy of Flickr.