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Life is too short to eat bad food! Sharing great recipes, farm life, stories and photography from our Northern California dairy farm.

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August 25, 2014

Tips for Keeping Kids Safe Online

Today is back to school day for many of us!  My kids are not yet teenagers but my almost 10 year old is constantly trying to negotiate time online while at home.   Back to school is always a good time to go over online safety with the kids, no matter the age and especially considering that 60% of teenagers, aged 13-17 years old have at least one online profile.  Receiving an email from Private Giant with some tips to help keep kids safe online has reminded me this would be a good time to talk to the kids about online safety.
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Here are tips to share with you...

Social Media Security Tips for Parents

1. Don’t allow your children to include any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) in their account user names. Even something as simple as a first name and the city you reside in can be enough for a criminal to piece together a bigger picture of your life through your online presence. A photo of a school shirt, friend connections, a comment about weekend plans, can be collected in a process called Doxing and used to build an exact profile of a person. A stranger can easily gain intimate knowledge of your child’s entire life by trolling online profiles that are not properly safeguarded. Another level of protection can be added by having your child create unique user names for each account, never reusing the same log in information between sites.

2. Turn off any geo-tagging features. Allowing social media sites to have knowledge of your children’s location at any time of day can create a dangerous history that stalkers, cybercriminals and child predators can gain access to and exploit.

3. Monitor your children’s monthly download data usage. If you notice a spike in data usage, ask your children what they have been doing online and check for yourself to see what apps, videos or other files have been downloaded. A spike in data usage could indicate the presence of malware.

4. Create a guest account for your children on their computer instead of allowing them to use the computer as an administrator. Setting up the computer this way will give you more control over what your child can access and install.

5. Prepare ahead of time by joining social media. Before you allow your children to create a social media account, take the time to download the app or create an account of your own so you are familiar with how the program works.

6. Stay up to date on social media privacy settings. Privacy settings are constantly changing and if you are not checking them on a regular basis your children could be inadvertently sharing personal information with the world.

7. Check your child’s browser history weekly. If you come across a site that looks suspicious or you are not familiar with, check it out. Also keep a look out for any sites that seem like your child might have been shopping online.

8. Have open communication about the dangers of being online. Explain to your children how being online and freely sharing information or not having the proper safeguards in place could result in your family losing money, home, valuables and safety. Share real life examples with them to help them understand how vulnerable they truly are.

9. Schedule surprise check-ins.  Have your children log in to their accounts so you can browse them freely with them. Every few weeks, collect your children’s devices and have them show you their accounts. Make it an opportunity to get connected with their online social world, and to detect if any of their online actions are inappropriate or potentially dangerous.

10. Only allow your children to communicate with or “friend” people they have met in person. Set a house rule that your children are not allowed to communicate or connect with people online that they have not met face-to-face and enforce it by having them “friend” you on their social media accounts so you can check at will and stay connected to their feeds.

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