Summer vacation is almost here — which means kids are going to be looking for new ways to fill their time with entertainments. Mobile devices and computers are no doubt at the top of their lists. But before you let your kids loose on the web, spend a little time making sure they know how to stay safe.
New apps pop up seemingly out of nowhere, but instantly every single one of your kid_s friends and classmates is using it and you find out so is your child. The app looks age appropriate and harmless, but predators find ways to infiltrate and exploit. It is important to check your child’s phone, computer or tablet on a regular basis to make sure no inappropriate content is being sent to them. But, there are other steps parents need to take to safeguard their children.
One common mistake parents make is allowing their children to create a username that incorporates their name, information about their age and location or interests. These small pieces of data are enough for a predator to start piecing together a profile of a child and give predators tools that can be used to find more information to manipulate kids.
The creators of SNDR, a new communications app, offer the following simple guidelines to help parents make sure online predators are not targeting their children.
Stop Kids from Duplicating Usernames
Just like recycling a password is a bad idea, kids should not use the same username to log into different online accounts. Having one common username across accounts just makes it easier for criminals to search for and find details about a child’s life.
Keep Personal Details Private
If an app or website requires kids to fill out a profile, do not let them enter personally identifying details like their full name, birthdate, age or address. If they cannot use a site without supplying these details, either supply a false answer to the questions or do not allow your child to use that site/app.
Email Addresses and Usernames Do Not Mix
Linking a username with an email address can simplify a predator’s search for personal information. Using trial and error, a criminal can add common email providers to a username, run a search and pull up social media accounts and any other sites where an email address was used to create a profile.
Create Unique Email Addresses for Each App/Site
Some email providers including Gmail, Outlook and Yahoo allow users to alter their email address into infinite number of disposable addresses. For example, if your child’s email address is email@example.com and he or she wants to sign up for a new gaming site, you can alter the email address just for that site by adding an identifier to it such as shauntips+ABCGamingFun@gmail.com. This keeps your child’s actual email address private and can help stop criminals from being able to track online history simply by searching for an email address.
Regularly checking what apps your child is using and what websites are being visited is the first line of defense. If anything looks suspicious or if you are unsure what something is, ask your child. If he or she cannot explain to your satisfaction what the app is then delete it and block it.For more information about protecting your security and privacy online, visit sndr.com.