“A child born today will grow up with no conception of privacy at all. They’ll never know what it means to have a private moment to themselves, an unrecorded, unanalyzed thought. And that’s a problem because privacy matters; privacy is what allows us to determine who we are and who we want to be.” – Edward Snowden
According to the Wall Street Journal, the average parent “will post almost 1,000 photos of a child online before the child turns 5.” Beyond pics, people are blogging about “their favorite child,” setting up Facebook accounts for their fetuses, and tweeting in their baby’s voices, giving kids a digital presence before they can even talk.
What are the consequences of sharing too much about your children online? Are your unknowingly jeopardizing their safety, or their privacy? Who will teach our children about online safety concerns as they grow up in a digital world? As a parent, how can you keep up with changes in technology that your children will know about and be using before you do? If you have an elevated threat model (military, law enforcement, public officials) so does your family. You may have already chosen to take steps to protect your privacy, but remember that your family may leak vulnerable information to the world without knowing it. Your children have a digital profile also which is probably growing much faster that you are aware of. Making decisions about their level of exposure and being able to monitor their activity is critical.
I spoke to a mother recently who’s 15 year old daughter was the victim of a sexual assault. Her child met and developed a relationship with her predator online, in social media circles that her mother had never heard of. This was not the first time the child had met someone online, nor was it the first time she had arranged to meet people in real life that she had originally contacted her via social media. This scenario is all too common, and extremely dangerous. The child’s mother explained that she routinely tried to monitor her daughter’s online activity, however she just couldn’t keep up with ways to do it effectively. Out of desperation, she asked if I could recommend any resources to help her learn more about protecting her children online. Without hesitation, I gave her the name of a book that deals specifically with this subject.
Outsmarting Your Kids Online – In this book, tech expert Amber Mac and Internet security expert Michael Bazzell provide the ultimate handbook for parenting in a digital world. From understanding today’s social media concerns to learning about tomorrow’s technology trends; from considering app risks to reporting digital bullies; from enabling monitoring solutions to identifying warning signs, this book empowers overwhelmed parents to make smarter online decisions to properly protect their kids.
This handbook provides parents new and unconventional tools that allow them to look into their child’s online life in a way never possible before. It identifies dozens of free resources that simplify and automate in-depth searching of your child’s social network activity. While popular sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook are covered in detail (including techniques that legally access some “hidden” content), the book goes much deeper into the online activity that may be exposing your child to unnecessary risk.
Like any of the resources I recommend, I have no financial interest in promoting this particular book. I do however have a great deal of respect for the authors who are experts in their field, and offer this important information in such a way that anyone can benefit from. It is a must read for any parent.
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