Data Privacy Day: 4 Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online

This Social Media for Social Good post is just a bit belated for Feb. and is in honor of Data Privacy Day, which was on January 28th. (I just started a full-time contract that I’m really excited about, as it brings together many of my interests, but the routine is still a bit off, so forgive my tardiness, here…) Anyway, in honor of my ongoing Live with Abundance series, Data Privacy Day is meant “to raise awareness of how personal information is treated online.”

I learned about Data Privacy Day, when I was researching Internet safety last month, soon after my school-age daughters’ launched their first blog posts on private sites of their own, during February break. (I’ve never seen either one of my daughters so eager to write, or to involve me in what they’re writing and learning, but that will be a different post some time.) Thus, as a parent, I joined the many other parents who must now as a family consider how to approach social sites and applications (see Social Networks and Kids: How Young is Too Young?).

In my online travels, I found especially helpful the list of resources from Data Privacy Day, 2010, including Online Resources for Parents, Educators, and Kids. I was also glad to find Google’s Tips for Online Family Safety, with guidelines from Annie Zehren, President of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping parents and teachers manage in a media-saturated world.

Here are some of the common sense tips Zehren shared:

  • Common Sense Tip #1: Kids need rules. Set rules in the household, or at school. Keep computers in a central place. Follow the American Pediatrics Association’s guidelines on no more than one to two hours of total screen time, a day. Check your browser’s history. Educate yourself about enabling strict filtering and blocking options, like Google’s Safe Search, available from the preferences on the Google home page.
  • Common Sense Tip #2: Educate your kids and yourself about Internet safety and responsibility. Learn about privacy and sharing controls, on social networking sites. Educate kids never to share online their names, addresses, phone numbers, or school names. Teach your kids not to tag pictures of other kids’ with their names, on sites like Facebook. (Don’t tag kids’ pictures yourself, with their names.) Encourage kids to share what they post online with you. Don’t give out passwords, or use Remember Me settings, on public computers. Talk about stranger danger, and the possible danger of meeting an online stranger in person.
  • Common Sense Tip #3: Teach kids to communicate responsibly. Educate kids on cyberbullying, and how screen names makes it easy for bullies to remain anonymous. Teach kids to show you the harassing text or e-mail and help them to understand their options, such as blocking the offender, making a report to the school or Internet Service provider, and flagging inappropriate content. Teach kids to be accountable for their own behavior, both online and offline.
  • Common Sense Tip #4: Develop media literacy skills. Teach kids not to trust or believe everything they read online. Teach kids how to distinguish reliable sources, how to verify information online, and how to view all content critically. Talk to kids about avoiding plagiarism of online sites.

I’ve compiled lots of additional links below to help parents and teachers keep kids safe online.

Related Links

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