April 22, 2014

Child Blogging Security

Image from geralt
While filling a quiet, rainy day by clicking through various Internet postings, I stumbled upon Slap Dash Mom's 10 Reasons to Let Your Kids Blog. I often write about the dangers of posting too much information (on this blog and at my day job), so you can only imagine my initial shock to read this headline. Why would you let your young children blog?

Realizing I am what some consider paranoid, I read her entire post trying to keep an open mind. She numbered a few educational reasons (i.e. typing, reading, writing), as well as state it provides a creative outlet for children to explore. As somebody who started this blog to improve my writing skills, I understand the educational aspect. However, my main hesitation towards children blogging is my concern of sharing too much personal information online. Of course comments from the main article like this one below cement my concern.
"A day to day for kids is a blogging, it just need to be written on a diaries or websites."
Let me make one thing clear, diaries and websites are totally different. Diaries are great for working out inner thoughts and dialog, because the audience is limited. A child should have a diary or personal journal. Afterwards you have the option of destroying the diary entry with little to no consequences. Websites are public domain and open to the whole world. Plus, your entry lives on forever. Slap Dash's children had a website called "Watermelon Toilet." I say had a website because Internet searches bring up dead links for it and the domain appears to be open for purchase. Fortunately, the WayBack Machine archives the Internet to show us snap shots of websites in time and Watermelon Toilet is no exception. Things live on forever on the Internet!
Many people are lulled into a false sense of security as we type behind a computer screen in the comfort and safety of our own home. The Internet provides us the capability to reach a worldwide audience from the comfort of our couch. This is difficult for some adults to phantom, let alone a child. Before allowing children to blog, parents need to have the talk. That's right, the security talk!

Before the talk, some stats:
  • 56% of teens receive requests for personal information
  • 42% said they have posted personal information online
  • More than 29% of Internet-using children freely give out their home address, email address and other personal information online when asked.
Be careful about what information you place on the Internet. You can't just delete it afterwards. Things can go viral  and get out of hand very quickly. It could end up on the screen of somebody with ill-intent. I am not just talking about child predators, but identity thieves. Due to our ever-connected digital age, child identity theft has been on the rise. 
Prior to posting, parents should review the information and photos to see if it could be misused. Your job as a parent is to protect your child by balancing risks and growth opportunities. Carefully consider what is being posted. Would it create fodder for a potential bully or something else? Would this be something that could impact them 10-20 years from now (i.e. college admission, job)?

In 2012, Tertia Loebenberg Albertyn saw pictures of her children being used to scam people out of money. Scammers were using her online photos to create a hoax to con people into donating money.
As a parent, would you be willing to deal with scammers using your child images for cons? These are things you must consider when posting to the web. If you're not willing to deal with that, then you should not let your child blog.
Remind your children that the Internet is a public place that anybody with Internet access can read. Would they be embarrassed if somebody from school found it? If you're not willing to read it in front family members and strangers at a busy supermarket for everybody to hear, than you should not write it on a website.

What are your thoughts? Do you allow your minor child to blog? If so, what security precautions do you take? Please let me down in the comments.
About...Kid's Safety (2008). Loss of privacy. Retrieved from http://kids.getnetwise.org/safetyguide/danger/privacy
Ford, M. (28 May 2012). When photos of your children are used in an Internet hoax. BlogHer. Retrieved from http://www.blogher.com/when-photos-your-children-are-used-internet-hoax 
Ross, J. (30 August 2013). How to prevent child identity theft part one: How parents can help. Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joe-ross/how-to-prevent-child-identity-theft_b_3843908.html 
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments:

Post a Comment