People generally have multiple online accounts these days that include any combination of social network profiles, online memberships, and other subscription services. It’s easy to forget about all of the websites that we’ve shared and posted personal information on, and our digital footprints are spreading faster than ever. Both kids and parents should check out the tips below for improving online reputations and privacy, and reducing digital footprints.
- Clean up your profiles – go through your Facebook – and any other social network – profiles to take out personal information like phone numbers, email addresses and full birthdays. Having information such as someone’s exact birthday better enables identity theft and also provides key information for potential online predators.
- Update Facebook settings – these should be set to the most private possible. Only your child’s friends and family members whom they’re connected to online should be able to see their wall, photos, and other posts.
- Keep your address offline – only provide your address on websites that absolutely require them, like shopping sites or online banking services. This should never be public information on social networks or other public forums.
- Delete old photo albums – get rid of old photos every so often. It’s not necessary to have years and years of albums “piling up” online; people most likely aren’t going to go back and look through them so go ahead and delete a few before you post more photos online.
- Update your online friends – similar to cleaning up your albums, go through your social network friends once in a while and delete people you don’t remember or rarely (if never) talk to. The more people you’re connected to online, the more people who have access to any of your information that’s posted or shared.
- Be wary of checking in – this is generally more popular with kids, so assure them that they don’t always have to check-in just because their friends are. And if necessary, encourage your kids to request that their friends don’t check them in either. Sharing one’s exact location at any given time is the easiest way to get targeted online.
- Be careful about apps – stay as smart as possible about downloading add-ons, games, or other apps, especially on Facebook. These kinds of extra features can put you in contact with more people online who you don’t know.
- Mix up your passwords – use multiple usernames and passwords on any site where they are required. Hopefully your kids only have a few different online accounts, but if they have more than one or two that means they should also vary their login info. If they can’t remember multiple passwords, then that’s probably a sign that they have too many accounts!
- Delete accounts – shut down accounts that are never used. Just like deleting photos or online friends when they become obsolete, deleting accounts ensures that there is no information floating around that is somewhat forgotten but could be used against you or your child in the future.
- Use common sense – kids today have a solid understanding of online trends, practices, and behaviors (sometimes more so than their parents!). Chances are that they have a good sense of what’s right, wrong, appropriate, or inappropriate online so trust that they use safe online practices.
Because kids are so online-savvy these days, it’s often other people out there that you have to worry about. That’s why it’s so important to keep settings as secure as possible, to preserve both your and your kids’ online privacy and to decrease your digital footprints.
How does your family practice safe online behaviors? How private are your kids’ settings on Facebook?