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5 Lessons on Protecting Online Privacy You Must Teach Your Kids
Great. Just when you were getting used to teaching them the whole walking thing and how to drink like a sober adult usually manages to, suddenly those tiny fingers are getting on a computer. The "little explorer" mentality is a much bigger problem online when they potentially can learn everything you don't want them to learn from the creep hive-mind. Birds and bees way too early. Whichever religions you consider wrong. A hundred "How to" videos on YouTube involving fireworks. No no, that won't do. Those grubby mitts will find a way online, so better teach them now how to at least not lead creeps straight to their door. Teach them these lessons:
Everyone is a Stranger Online
Make sure your kid gets this. It's probably a bit early to learn the lesson that no one in the world can be trusted and every nice face is a lie, but in today's world, they need to know. Sure, they may end up a hollow shell of a hermit who can't be around people, but at least they'll be safe. And for crying out loud, make sure you teach them not to literally type "stranger danger!" because that will alert all other participants to how old they are really quickly.
Age is Just a Number (That You Shouldn't Tell Anyone)
Make sure the kid knows that their age is something to never reveal to people online. Tell them to never type it into a form-field or tell it to a stranger, because this piques the interest of predators and others who want to take advantage of their naivety. Of course, that means you have a much bigger job in explaining the nuances of lying and how it isn't always wrong, but this is the internet's fault. So be mad at the internet.
Don't Ever Use Your Real Name on the Web
This used to be so much easier. If you told a kid to just make a "really cool" screen name, they would've picked like, OptimusPrime007 or something and been really happy about it. Now, you tell your kid "never use your real name online" and they say "but all my friends use theirs on Facebook." Good job Zuckerberg. Thanks for ushering in an era of people using their real names next to pictures of their real face. I bet you hate kids almost as much as you hate privacy and your business partners. Anyway, just try to get them to use it in as few places as possible, so it can't be linked to them and people can't use public records lookups to find them.
Use Very Few Online Accounts
Stop them from opening an account on every two-bit forum that comes asking for an email address. The more places they're active, the more likely they let slip some identity-revealing information, not to mention you'll have to help them clean out their Inbox they way you already have to help them clean their room.
No Information on your Location
If they don't abide by "don't talk to strangers" because they just have to figure out how to get some rare Skylanders toy from an online collector, at least make sure they know not to ever reveal their location. Make them paranoid if you have to. Don't let them think that it's okay to reference the Space Needle or Lake Michigan or any other nearby landmark. Heck, don't even let them mention the weather. It's safer this way.
Try Being a Good Parent
Of course, a lot of this can be avoided if you lock down your home computers and monitor your kid's online activities, but one day they'll get on a device you don't control at a friend's house, or at school. You may as well impart some