Our Kids Online: Building & Protecting Their Digital Footprints

Every parent worries about their child online, and with good reason. With an excess of security and data breaches lately, it’s clear that many adults do not how to properly and/or safely use the Internet. How can we expect our kids, who have so much to learn and much more growing and developing to do, to conduct themselves appropriately online? As it turns out, kids are listening to our warnings. A recent survey provided these results:

Kids OnlineWe live in a digital world. Nowadays, if a person is not on social media and/or searchable online, red flags are raised. Kids are turning to social networking sites at a younger and younger age as these are now how friends connect and share their experiences together. Schools are now taking advantage of students’ online presence for educational purposes, such as discussion boards. It is virtually (pun intended) impossible to keep our kids offline. Therefore, we must teach our kids to be smart online.

According to these results, though, it seems like as parents, we’re doing a decent job teaching our kids to be responsible online. There is still room for improvement. While over half of kids say they are careful about what they post, there is still 36% of children who aren’t. Also, what they deem as “appropriate” may not be. As teens and young adults, we think we know it all. It isn’t until we mature a bit more that we realize there’s still so much more to know.

When talking to your kids about their online habits, here are some helpful tips:

Kids OnlineAlways remember that the Internet is an open environment. Your personal information is constantly being collected and stored for advertising purposes and personal convenience. It’s simple to access a person’s information online, so make sure that if a future employer or a grandparent saw all of that information, they would approve.

Kids OnlineTreat your password like a toothbrush. Both should only be used by you and changed regularly. To ensure that only you are posting or sending things as yourself, it’s necessary that only you know your passwords. Your passwords should be different for each account. For more password tips, check out our strong password tips.

monitorManage your security settings early and often. Just because your posts are appropriate doesn’t mean that you want every person out there seeing it. As soon as you create any account, check that the privacy settings are to your desired preferences, and be sure to check these settings every so often. Updates to the website, policies, etc. can sometimes alter these settings.

ipaddressesIP addresses are like telephone numbers. Your IP address is a set of numbers that identify your computer to other computers. Without one, your computer cannot connect to the Internet. If someone is upsetting or hurting you online, this IP address can help police track down the other person. At the same time, anything you do or say can be tracked back to you through your IP address.

reportDon’t be afraid to report someone. There are plenty of good people online, and there are plenty of bad people, too. If someone is posting inappropriate or offensive things or harassing you, tell someone. Click the “Report” button, block the user, or tell an adult. If you are telling someone, you may need to show proof, so remember to keep the message/image/content open to print or take screen shots if higher authorities need to get involved.

Keeping our kids safe online is our top concern. Teaching our children safe Internet use practice will not only help keep our kids safe, but improve our our cybersecurity in the future. With the Internet having been around for a few decades and changing so drastically in the last ten years, today’s adults have had to learn how to use the Internet, then learn to change their habits with constantly evolving technology. Kids today can learn these safe practices young and grow up with the Internet as an integral part of life, and with that, the adaptations we have to make will come as a normal part of life as well. This makes changes in how to use technology easier for them to adjust to than it was for us. Teaching our children to always be wise online is beneficial to our entire future.