#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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#CyberFLASH: Canada joins global sweep of kids’ online privacy

image-2Sometimes it can seem that kids are more digitally savvy than the adults around them. Children are playing games on mobile devices, watching videos online, and exploring various websites. But are those apps and websites taking enough precautions to protect children’s privacy?

That’s the question at the heart of a global investigation taking place this week involving privacy organizations in 21 countries, including the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada (OPC).

These organizations will be examining the apps and websites that are most popular among children in each country. (In Canada, “children” means those under age 12, though this may differ in some places.)

Investigators will be looking at whether apps and sites gather personal information on kids, and if they do, whether that information is limited to what’s necessary (to create an account, for example). They will also examine whether the apps and sites prompt users to involve a parent or guardian in any registration process; and whether they take measures to make privacy policies understandable to kids. That means not just using simple language, but also using graphics or even animated characters to guide them through the information and to encourage parental involvement.

The sweep, which began Monday and runs through Friday, was initiated by the members of the Global Privacy Enforcement Network, and includes countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Germany, France and Mexico.

Read more here

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