BBB reminds parents to keep their children safe online

  
     
September 07, 2017

Better Business Bureau Serving Acadiana reminds parents to educate their children on Internet safety and monitor usage to protect them online.

Depending on the ages of your children, they may be spending anywhere from two to seven and a half hours a day on the Internet. Whether they are young children playing simple games or older ones doing research for school, visiting on social networking sites and playing more sophisticated games, most children are on the Internet at least some part of every day.

The Internet is a double-edged sword for children. It opens new worlds to them: they can learn about numerous subjects, get help with homework and make new friends. Children can also keep in touch with friends and family, no matter where they live. They can even share pictures and videos on cell phones as well as on computers.

The opportunities offered by the Internet, however, also make children vulnerable to certain risks. Many children do not understand the consequences of disclosing personal information, such as full name, address, email address, phone number, cell phone number, Social Security number or other information that allows them to be contacted offline.

Submitting personal information to a website operator for registration purposes will allow the operator and anyone with whom he shares that information to contact a child with unwanted marketing solicitations.

In addition, children’s use of the Internet without parental supervision can lead to exposure to inappropriate information and pictures, bullying, stalking and even overtures from predators. If kids are able to post personal information on social media outlets, they also expose themselves to identity theft.

According to a past study by the National Cyber Security Alliance staysafeonline.org, 74 percent of parents surveyed admitted they did not monitor their children’s online activities.  This is particularly important, since the NCSA study also reports seven out of ten children are victims of cyber bullying.

The good news is that the study further revealed that talking to your children and reminding them about safe online behavior does have an impact.  The survey also finds that 46 percent of young people say they would change their online habits if their parents were paying attention.

BBB offers the following advice to protect children in several online activities:

  • Games - Check out the games your children are playing. Look up their ratings and reviews to verify that they are appropriate for children. Play the games with your children to better understand them. When a game played online allows chat with other players, be sure your kids are careful about the information they disclose.
  • Apps - Know which ones your kids are using on tablets and phones. Be sure they have come from reputable app stores and examine their privacy disclosures and settings. If they share your child’s location with friends and family, be sure that only the right people have access to that information.
  • Social Media - Know what social media channels your children are using and what information they are sharing on their profiles. Be sure to set and enforce family rules for how these profiles can be used and have your children to provide you with their passwords for the sites.
  • Instant Messaging/Chat - Talk with your kids about knowing who they’re talking with online. Make it clear that if they don’t know them in real life, they don’t need to chat with them online.
  • Photo Sharing - Make sure your kids know what their privacy settings should be and what’s appropriate to share.

 

As a parent, you’ll likely want to allow your children to use technology for communications, learning and more. You’re also going to want to be sure that your children use the Internet safely and securely. Parental controls are a great way to be proactive about your child’s online safety and activities. OnGuardOnline.gov gives a breakdown of different types of parental controls:

  • Filtering and blocking: This limits access to specific websites, words, or images.
  • Blocking outgoing content: This prevents your children from sharing personal information online and via email.
  • Limiting time: This allows parents to set time limits for how long their children are online and the time of day they can access the Internet.
  • Monitoring tools: This alerts parents to their children’s online activity without blocking access and can be used with or without the child’s knowledge. Some software records websites a child has visited. Others display a warning message when a child visits a certain website.

Keep in mind that when your children go online at friends’ homes, those computers may not have the same filters and settings.

If you think a site has collected or disclosed information from your kids or marketed to them in a way that violates the law, report it to caru.bbb.org at the Parent’s Corner.

 

“Look for the Seal” and Start with Trust®. BBB Serving Acadiana is a private non-profit organization that strives for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses.

 

Please contact Better Business Bureau at (337) 981-3497 or at bbb.org 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America. Consumers can also sign up for our free BBB “Scoop” eNewsletter by visiting bbb.org and clicking on the “Programs & Services” tab.

BBB Serving Acadiana covers the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St. Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.