And do you know how to find them?
Know Your Rights
There are laws, as provided for by COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Act of 1998), that regulate what our kids are able to do online. It addresses such things as waiting until at least age 13 to get a Facebook account and prohibiting marketers from targeting kids younger than that age. But there is a whole lot of grey area – and we have a whole lot of things we need to do on our parts.
We have to ask ourselves this uncomfortable question: If something happens to my child (injury, illness, death), could I access my child’s technology?
Could you unlock the phone or laptop? Open emails? Find IDs and passwords for all social media accounts? The reality is that the law does not protect parents and their children. If you don’t have access now, tech companies aren’t necessarily going to give it to you if you need it. In recent years, parents have been battling, unsuccessfully, to access their kids’ accounts. So a platform like Facebook won’t allow you access to your child’s account in case of an emergency. They are just now rolling out options in the US for people to establish “Legacy” settings. The laws are behind the technology, and we have to take steps to organize our kids’ digital information.
Organizing Your Child’s Digital Information
Every family needs to find a method that works for the ages and responsibility levels of their kids. The point is to do something today so your child’s digital footprint doesn’t walk away from you.
- Set cyber-safety rules.
- Have your kids put their account IDs and passwords into a sealed envelope. This is about trust – they know you won’t break the seal unless there is a serious emergency.
- Check in once a month (like when you pay the bills) to make sure you know which accounts your kids are using and make sure their contact information is current.
- Use security settings on smartphones, tablets, and computers.
- Use the Ask to Buy feature if your child uses an Apple device.
- Use the Authentication feature for the Google Play Store.
- Check browser histories.
- Check out my suggestions about organizing your own digital information.
- Consider using online parenting apps. These are designed to alert you to potentially harmful activity on your kids’ devices. Some to check out include PocketGuardian and ThirdParent.