#CyberFLASH: How to teach your kids about online privacy

G3-Nov16-20TORONTO – Forget the spoon, most kids these days are born with a silver smartphone in hand.

Kids these days grow up on the Internet. From a young age many are using devices that give them the web at their fingertips – and while the Internet and social media can be a very beneficial and educational tool for kids, it also leaves them susceptible to many risks.

Teaching kids about online privacy and safety has become a new priority for parents – but many may find it challenging, especially when kids seem to know more about the Internet than their guardians.

So, how do you start the conversation about online privacy in your home?

Don’t be afraid to start young

A five-year-old who is learning how to play games and use age-appropriate websites is too young to learn about online privacy right? Wrong.

As soon as your child starts using the web it’s time to start the conversation.

“It’s a conversation that can start as early as they are able to understand some of the concepts,” said Thierry Plante, media education specialist with MediaSmarts, a Canadian non-for-profit centre for digital and media literacy.

“But, the conversation has to be tailored to their developmental stages.”

For example, kids aged five to seven accept content at face value thanks to their “accepting nature,” according to MediaSmarts.

This means they are vulnerable to online marketers who use things like surveys and contests to collect personal data from users.

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