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Revealing Too MuchRevealing Too Much

Web 2.0 lets users share information online as easily as they download it. Unfortunately, people of all ages often reveal too much. Children can be made especially vulnerable by sharing personal information, such as home addresses and phone numbers, private thoughts and feelings, and pictures. In order to keep your children from posting information and images they may end up regretting, remind them who may see the information they reveal while online.

Predators

Predators are always looking to collect information about their child victims. This information may be used to identify, connect with, or manipulate children. For example, if a child blogs about being misunderstood, a predator might provide a sympathetic ear in order to create trust and form a relationship. Predators may also try to encourage children into a sexual relationship by talking about sex, so children should avoid talking about provocative subjects with people they do not know.

Cyberbullies

Cyberbullies take their targets’ personal information and use it against them. They may copy and alter photos; share private e-mail or instant message conversations; and taunt their victims with emotional insecurities revealed in blogs.

Scammers

Scammers want to use children’s personal information to manipulate them. Children who post e-mail addresses and phone numbers may be the targets of spam, telemarketers, and e-mail scams.

It is also becoming more common for coaches, college admissions officers, and employers to screen applicants by checking their online profiles and postings. An admissions officer’s decisions may be negatively influenced by a teen’s posts - for example, rude comments about teachers or inappropriate photos.

Tips

Help children maintain online privacy

Children can hurt themselves when they reveal too much information. Inappropriate pictures, videos, and conversations posted online may come back to haunt them. Help your children take control of their personal information with the following tips.

  • Make sure that your child takes advantage of the privacy settings on social networking sites.
  • Pre-approve the pictures and videos your child posts online.
  • Remind your child never to post e-mail addresses or cell phone numbers.
  • Tell your child that passwords should only be shared with parents and guardians.
  • Teach your child not to respond to any e-mails requesting personal information and to delete e-mails from unknown senders.
  • Discuss how to keep screennames and e-mail addresses gender-neutral, appropriate, and free of any information that could reveal identity.
  • Encourage your child to tell you right away if anything happens online that bothers or frightens him or her.

Discussion Starters

Start a discussion with your children

Use these discussion starters to get an Internet safety conversation going with your children. The more often you talk to them about online safety, the easier it will get, so don’t get discouraged if they don’t respond immediately!

  • Can I take a look at what you have been posting online?
  • Does anyone else have access to your passwords?
  • What information is okay to share online? What information should you keep private?
  • What could someone learn about you from what you post online? How might they use this information?
  • Have you ever regretted anything you posted online?