The Todd and I had some serious discussions when our twins were old enough to noodle around online. So far, they’re primarily interested in art sites and YouTube episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba, but every parent feels that hyper-vigilance about what could happen to your little person. We even thought twice about posting pictures of the twins, so we’re pretty careful about what goes up. A close friend and That Went Well friend recently had some very serious privacy violations online with one of her kids. This seems like a good time to go over some resources and options to keep this from happening to you.
Starting the conversation: there’s some great idea starters and advice on www.iSafe.com and www.MySecurityCyberspace.com. Find out what the actual dangers are so that your kids can’t roll their eyes and do the “oh, Mom!” thing.
Google Alerts: you can actually set up an alert with Google (www.google.com/alerts) that’ll tell you when you or your children’s names are mentioned on the Web. This is especially helpful for online bullies and rumor-starters.
Facebook Dos and Don’ts: totally be a “lurker” on Facebook. Make a deal with the kids that you’re allowed to see everything coming in and going out. Do some research on the Safety Center at Facebook (www.facebook.com/help/?safety) to make sure your privacy settings are where you want them.
Software Safety: there’s some new options with www.onlinefamilynorton.com, which is free, to prevent some of the nasty new viruses popping up right now. There’s also more options with www.mcafee.com (about $40.00) and www.netnanny.com (around $40.00 as well) to monitor the sites your kids hit, block the really ugly ones and actually limit the amount of time they spend surfing–soooo helpful when they’re supposed to be doing homework.