With an opening line “If you don’t want to have the bejesus scared out of you, don’t talk to an expert on kids’ online privacy”, many would avoid reading the rest of the article, but definitely should not!  Common Sense Media has put together 7 Reasons Parents Should Care About Kids and Online Privacy and it is a worthy read.  Here’s a summary of their recommendations:

  • Make sure you buy toy-software or apps that have good privacy policies that you understand. Only provide required information, don’t supply optional data, and when not being used the toy-app should be off.
  • Consider not using home assistant software until the privacy regulations are ironed out.  Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Mattel Aristotle collect and store unrevealed amounts of data.  Or just turn off your home assistant’s microphone when you’re not using it and regularly clear-out data in your device app settings, deleting anything you don’t want stored on a phone or in cloud servers.
  • Location-aware social media such as Twitter, Kik and Facebook can instantly reveal your kids location to all of their contacts. Turn off location sharing on your kids’ devices, both in the phone settings and in the apps they use, so their status updates and photos are not automatically tagged with their locations. We teach kids never tell strangers their address, where they go to school, and are going. It is equally important to teach them to choose “no” when asked to share their location digitally.
  • Admissions reps and hiring managers are gleaning the internet for a better understanding of candidates. Tell your kid not to share photos of questionable activities on the internet. Nightmare scenario, but If those kinds of photos wind up online, have your child ask friends either to take them down or not to tag them – photos can be traced back. Modeling responsible online sharing yourself means not sharing photos of your kid without asking permission, and limiting the audience — for example, only family.
  • Don’t let school software determine your child’s potential.  If your student is using third-party programs at school, inquire what the software opts them into and what they can opt out of. Teach kids to only supply required information, and skip optional requests. Ideally, read through privacy policies of all software your child uses at home and at school. Otherwise, contact the principal about the school’s vetting of company policies and encourage that the school continue to learn how to do more to protect student privacy.
  • Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), schools are allowed to share certain information without getting parental consent: individual education plans (IEP), attendance records, a disciplinary record, certain health and medical details, etc. could be disclosed. Without you knowing why, your child could be excluded from from advanced classes, special services, or other entities. Schools are required to send parents information on how they handle student privacy. Make sure you know what information your school collects, how that data is stored, who can access it, and what policies are in place that protect how future administrators are allowed to handle it. Under FERPA parents have the right to request, correct, or add an amendment to their child’s records.
  • Oversharing can lead to humiliation. Talk to your kids about keeping private things private. Information travels far and fast, and can last a lifetime or longer. Help them understand that talking to friends about respecting one another’s personal privacy is the smartest thing.

You can also learn about their Student Privacy Initiative to help districts, schools, and teachers make more informed decisions about the apps they use with students.