Parents, kids; we’re all online. And lately? More than ever.
A survey from both LifeLock and the National PTA found that 72% of children 8 and under had access to mobile media in 2013, compared to 38% in 2011. Most concerning to parents is the dangerously high risk of young kids being exposed to damaging content or cybercriminals. That’s why LifeLock and the PTA want to give parents the tools to turn kids into smarter digital citizens.
The initiative involves options for parents, children, educators, and Internet safety advocates. There’s not just one solution simply because the Internet is so wide and broad, there’s no typical user, and every parent or institution may require different expectations of behavior.
- The ConnectSafely.org site, which offers all sorts of resources regarding online privacy and ways to combat or prevent problems like identity theft, sexting, and cyberbullying. Visitors can get tips on minimizing the risks of these dangers, simply by crafting more secure passwords.
- Strong social media presence and a Twitter page that offer regular tips, strategies, and current news items about online security.
- Tips on how parents, teens, and younger children can safely and properly interact with people they meet on different areas of the Internet, from social networks to gaming areas to forums. While some encounters will be appropriate, there are risks about people accidentally giving out personal information. Even parents can be susceptible to “phishing,” or tricky efforts to acquire financial and/or personal data.
What to Expect
This year seems like an optimal time to be rolling out this collaborative effort involving education and online security companies. It has parallels to a program recently launched by the U.S. Department of Education which aims to find a middle ground between requests for more access to online teaching resources and a need to keep student information as confidential as possible.
The department’s Privacy Technical Assistance Center recently came up with a series of guidelines that summarize the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act and Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment. The guidelines are designed to offer more tools for schools and districts such as software, mobile applications and online resources while still following laws designed to protect student privacy as much as possible. Individual states are also offering similar resources to protect youth online and empower parents to make their families safer.
For instance, Washington State’s Office of the Attorney General offers 14 Internet safety strategies, plus a “contract” for every family member to sign that includes acceptable and unacceptable behaviors. It also encourages families to set guidelines before a child turns age 10.