Protecting your child’s privacy from those who could place your child in danger is something that every parent needs to manage. The best ways to protect child privacy involve a combination of being mindful of where possible dangers lurk, educating your child on how to be careful with offering personal information, and making sure you monitor your child’s activities, both online and offline.
A basic rule of managing child privacy is to teach your child that certain information is only to be shared with trusted individuals. This includes data such as the last name, address, telephone numbers, the name of the child’s school, and where the parents work. Younger children will usually require specific examples of who is considered trustworthy, such as a teacher, principal, or a police officer. Teach your child that if anyone asks for personal information and he or she is not sure whether it is okay to provide the data, go to a trusted adult immediately.
With the growth of social interaction on the Internet, the chances of someone invading the privacy of your son or daughter have increased significantly over the last several years. This makes teaching your child how to function in these settings very important. As you teach your child how to be safe online, make sure that you have access to his or her email accounts, as well as the login credentials for any social network or forum where you allow your child to participate. This will make it easier for you to check the online activity and make sure no child privacy invasions are taking place.
Providing your child with a few basic rules regarding online socializing is also important. When it comes to chat rooms and forums, your child can only join and participate after you’ve investigated the site and feel it is age appropriate. Go for forums and chat rooms that are moderated, since there is a better chance of keeping out anyone who wants to take advantage of preteen and teenage children. Only you and your child should know the login credentials used at each site; that information is not to be given to anyone else without your express permission.
A few basic child privacy guidelines are also in order before your child joins any social network site. Your child should never post information on a profile such as a home telephone number, cell phone number, or physical address. Teach your child to not post any public comments that provide clues as to when your child is going out with friends or where they are going. Pictures can only be uploaded to a profile after you have reviewed them and decide they do not provide any information that could be used to breach your child’s privacy. As with the forums, login credentials to a social networking account should not be given to anyone without your permission.
Friends lists are also one of the tools that unscrupulous individuals will use to breach child privacy. For this reason, make sure your child does not add anyone to his or her list without your permission. Also make sure that any online chats are monitored very closely. In many cases, it is a wise move to join the same social network and add yourself to your child’s friends list. This sends a message that you are monitoring your child’s online activity, and may discourage undesirables from approaching your child.
Many parents strive to balance teaching children about the importance of privacy protection, while still allowing them room to learn how to interact socially with others online and offline. This is sometimes a difficult balance to achieve. But by monitoring your child’s social contacts and activity, it is possible to incrementally teach your child how to socialize responsibly while at the same time practicing child privacy strategies that protect your son or daughter from any type of exploitation.