Kids do absolutely everything online and in social media. Even my four year old son complains when he doesn’t have access to the Internet when we are in the car or on the subway. And social media is their “voice,” their means of communicating with their friends, network and the world. The problem is that the world is listening back and there’s no way of knowing whether those people are nosey family members or an identity thief looking for personal information they can use to steal identities.
Home robberies have always been risky. They require a thief to acquire skills including surveillance, reconnaissance, lock picking and being agile & stealthy. With the coming of the Internet & the information age, information is everywhere. The more you do online, the more personal information there is about you available online being recorded and stored. Add to this proliferation of information the fact that there are easy to use tools for hackers, and you’ve lowered the barriers to entry to simply having a computer with Internet access.
50% of all adults had their personal information compromised in a large scale breaches in 2014 alone, the good news for grownups is that our data is pretty picked over. The new frontier for cyber attacks is our kids and the reasons are fairly simple.
- They’re kids. As a result, vulnerable are vulnerable and susceptible to potentially dangerous interactions both online and in person.
- No, I’m not saying your kid is dumb. They could be a genius or child prodigy but they’re probably ignorant as to the intricacies of finances and the value of their personal information to a hacker. That said, they post personal information without even realizing that it’s sensitive or that it could have detrimental effects.
- The have a social media account.
- Most kids have social media accounts, no surprise there. They use their profiles to give a play-by-play as to their everyday lives, often broadcasting to the digital world facts about their day like what they ate at every meal, birthdays, where they have traveled and where & when they have plans to travel, various information about family members, especially their parents/guardians and the list goes on.
- Seventy-one percent of teens say they use more than one of the following social networks: Facebook, Google+, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Vine and Tumblr
As a result, you’re more vulnerable to hackers and cyber criminals, especially when your kids do these five things.
- Malicious games and other apps have been shown to relay all data on a mobile device back to thieves. Kids might not realize that the apps they’re using aren’t legitimate.
- By “checking in” via social media apps, a thief can essentially track them and figure out where they live, go to school, hang out, etc.
- They may post publicly about when you are going to be on vacation and away from the house
- They post pictures of themselves and you. (I wish I had this digital technology available when I needed a fake ID!)
- Unknowingly answering your frequently asked security questions including pets names, their name, sibling names and dates of birth
Part of the solution is to educate kids & ensure that they’re aware that the Internet is not a private place. Regardless of privacy settings & anonymity promises, anything you post no longer belongs to you and that information stays on the internet forever.
As a parent or guardian, you should also strongly consider getting a tracking app that will show you what your kids are posting. If your kids were to find out, they would likely disapprove and it might put a damper on their social media lives, but it also might stop you from spending 40+ hours cleaning up identity theft or having to help them through a cyber-bullying situation.
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