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Teaching Kids to Protect Their Data and Privacy Online

Tips for kids and teens to keep their information safe and private when they use tech.

Topics: Online Safety
Woman and teenage girl seated at a table, smiling and looking at a tablet. The woman is swiping on the tablet with her right hand.

When kids start to use tech or go online, it's important to teach them the basics of online safety and privacy. Whether they're using educational apps or social media, a lot of their information is collected by companies. Help your children be mindful of their digital lives by sharing some guidelines on how to protect their personal data.

Here are a few things to look for when you and your kid create profiles for devices, apps, games, social media platforms, and internet-enabled toys:

  • Create strong usernames and passwords. To keep your account secure, never include personal details in your account name or password. Consider your digital footprint and select appropriate, inoffensive usernames.
  • Use strict privacy settings. Whenever you can, opt out of sharing your location and data. Here's how you can up a secure account.
  • Be careful with personal info. Encourage your kids to ask you for help when filling out online forms. If they create profiles on devices at home or in school, make sure they know what data to keep private. This can include identifiable information like phone numbers, birthdays, addresses, and Social Security numbers, depending on the situation and its requirements.
  • Look for a safe URL. Does the URL (also known as the link) begin with "https"? The "s" at the end means the website is secure. Make sure that "s" is there both before and after your kid signs in.
  • Do a password check. Pretend your kid has forgotten their password and try to recover it online. Does the site display the password or email it? If so, the password is not securely protected. Sites that send a link asking you to create a brand-new password are safer.
  • Check sharing settings. If kids are sending messages or creating content online, you could change the privacy settings so their posts are only shared with trusted people.
  • Skip anything that's not required. If you can create your account without giving away certain personal information, don't offer it up.
  • Be careful with downloads and other links. Spyware, malware, and other harmful software can be embedded in what seem like regular downloads. Consider using antivirus software and apps to keep your devices safe.

Finally, share these tips on creating strong passwords with your kids:

  • Make it long, unique, and memorable. Your password should be easy for you to remember, but hard for others to guess. Plus, it's harder to crack passwords that have eight or more letters and characters.
  • Avoid recognizable words and personal information. Use a random mix of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Don't include your name, phone number, birthday, or address.
  • Update your passwords regularly. In case someone does guess a password, they won't be able to get into your account for long.
  • Consider sharing your password with a parent or caregiver. Sharing your password with your friends can be risky. If you forget your password, a trusted adult can help you recover it.
  • Store passwords away safely. Consider using a password manager to store your passwords.
Common Sense Media

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