Easy Tips for Parents to Keep Kids Safe Online

On July 1st the new regulations for the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) went into effect.  But, COPPA really only concerns the collection of information from a child under 13.  It does not care about content, about moderation, about bullying, about many of things that actually concern parents when they think about their kids online.

Last week I was on the CBS show The Couch talking about what parents can look for to keep their kids safe online:

We were very ready for these changes at KidzVuz.com.  In fact, we’ve always required parental consent for kids to make videos on KidzVuz.  Now we have taken that a step further and implemented new methods of verifiable parental consent, starting with an easy to fill out form for parents, and some of which will be rolled out later this month.

On KidzVuz we watch and moderate every video and comment before it goes up – not just for lewd content, but for a kid wearing the name of their school on their shirt, saying their address or cell phone number, giving out their location, and more.  However, that’s not true of many sites – and certainly not true of YouTube and Instagram, two of the most popular places for kids to virtually hang out.  And, trust me, we see kids trying to give out this information all the time.

It’s important that kids under 13 do NOT lie about their age and open accounts on YouTube, Facebook, Instagram or Vine.  It’s illegal, and it’s also dangerous because they are naive and earnest enough to really, really want to connect and get feedback from strangers.  From anyone.

Here are the Online Safety Tips for parents and kids we recommend from KidzVuz.com

Don’t Share Personal Information 
That means making sure your kids know what personal information is. Tell your kids never to share their phone number, email, full name, address or school name (even if it’s just a logo on the shirt they’re wearing in a picture) on any site, text, or app — even if they think the site is “safe” or “private.”

Treat your kid’s smart phone like the computer it is
Smart phones are basically powerful computers in the palm of your hand. So whatever safety precautions you take on your child’s computer should apply to his or her phone. (And don’t forget about geo-location – turn it off on your kids’ phone.

Have a Game Plan 
Your kids can’t protect themselves from what they don’t know: talk to your kids about what they might see on the internet — and what to do when and if they do see something they shouldn’t., or if someone contacts them in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Having a game plan will make your kids more likely to respond in a healthy way to unsafe situation.

Keep up on the latest apps and sites
You can’t protect your kids from what you don’t know. Your kids should know that you’re aware of the newest sites and apps they’re on, and ready to intervene should something go wrong.

Repeat yourself 
Parents need to have the Digital Safety talk with their kids early and often. Tell your kids about what they might see. Remind them about passwords and privacy. Let them know you mean it!

Read the Fine Print!
Read the Terms of Service and Privacy Policies of the sites your child is joining (and your own!). It isn’t fun, we know. But at least the new law has made it mandatory that sites make all that legal mumbo-jumbo easier to understand.

Opt Out
Many sites offer “opt out” provisions for being tracked on the web. Sometimes you have to dig tor them, but if you care about behavioral tracking this is key for you and your kids.

Set a Google Alert for your kids’ names
It’s an easy way to keep track of new content being posted or created by or about your child.

and finally -

JOIN!

It’s not cool to be a Luddite when you’re a parent.  Get in there.  If your kids are on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube 0r even Club Penguin or Moshi Monsters you should be too.  You don’t have to live there – but you need to know the rules and your kid needs to know you care enough to want to know ALL their friends, virtual or real.