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Your Child’s Online Privacy: An Intro

by editorial team and Sophia Ruan Gushée


A modern challenge for parents is protecting their children’s privacy online—both a child’s online reputation, and information that companies can collect about children during online interactions.

Although the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) put parents in charge of information collected about their children online, today’s digital world has advanced dramatically since this act was enacted. While COPPA is still relevant, more should be done to protect against internet hackers and identity thieves.

Why Should You Protect Your Child’s Online Privacy

Hackers and identify thieves stalk people—including children of all ages—for their information.

Parents should educate their children about the risks associated with sharing too much personal information. They should learn from as early as is appropriate that information they share online may become public record forever. A teen who posts party pictures may regret it when applying for a scholarship or job opportunity. Employers, scouts, and colleges now routinely look at candidate’s social media pages.

At What Age Should You Be Concerned?

Parents should start thinking about their child’s online privacy as soon as the child accesses their first digital screen. Or even sooner.

The Cloudpet privacy debacle sent shockwaves of disbelief as parents learned that account information of 800,000 users was left unprotected on the internet. Private voice recordings between parents and children became public, and a whole new level of privacy awareness was born.

The VTech breach of 2015 was the fourth most massive known data breach and exposed information—including names, addresses, and passwords—of almost five million parents with a direct link to their children’s information.

Who Would Want to Hack a Child and Why?

Some Smart toys designed to learn and grow with kids had privacy issues and were prime targets for hackers. Identify thieves target children for their clean credit history and social security numbers.

How is Information and Privacy Breached Online?

There are many ways your child’s information could end up in the wrong hands. One way might be your home’s use of home assistant devices such as Amazon Alexa, Mattel Aristotle, or Google Home which are designed to collect and store data. In 2018, one family’s Echo sent a private conversation to phone contacts in the family member’s phone.

In addition to collecting identity data on your child, location-aware social media sites can reveal kid’s physical locations and put them at risk from predators. Location apps such as Find My Friends can be beneficial, but there is also a risk associated with your child broadcasting his locale to the world.

Parents and children should take care when posting the following information online.

  • Name
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Password
  • Address
  • ZipCode
  • School
  • Photos

Cyber-thieves target children and teens in chat rooms, online gaming rooms, social media and video streaming sites, or other places where teenagers are active. Kids and teens are particularly vulnerable due to their lack of knowledge of cybersecurity.

Many parents are uncomfortable offering guidance to their children’s digital lives. After all, their children are native speakers of the digital language, and many parents are barely fluent and find themselves asking their kids for guidance with technology. However, parents and kids need to collaborate to ensure the protection of privacy for both parents and children.

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