To jumpstart that conversation, here is a quick go-to list:
1. Change your account passwords. Creating new, effective passwords for all of your accounts can prevent you from identity theft. Mnemonics based on personal information work best and are difficult for hackers to crack, but even the best passwords should be changed approximately every 3 months. Keep in mind that you should never share your password with anyone.
2. Verify and modify your friends list. If you are online friends with somebody that you actually don’t’ know very well, consider deleting them. Remember, privacy organization Truste recently found that 42% of teens accept friend requests from strangers on social networks.
3. Check your privacy settings. Many social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace made multiple changes to their privacy policies during 2010 and if you haven’t maintained your settings, they may have been moved to the site’s default settings. Take the time now to review them on every social networking site you use and make changes where necessary.
4. Google yourself. This is the first thing people will do when they want to find dirt on you, so stay ahead of the game and learn what’s out there. If you find any suspicious, inappropriate or unauthorized content, report it to the site’s administrator immediately.
5. Review the dangers of oversharing. Mentioning your full name, school name, address, age, birth date, or telephone number online is a definite no-no. This goes for content on Facebook, Twitter, Skype, and personal blogs too. Avoid posting photographs that reveal identifiable information such as your school’s name, and absolutely never use your real full name within your username.
6. Disable geotagging on devices. Smart phones often automatically store metadata within any photograph you take and reveal your exact location. Uploading photographs from a smart phone to a social networking site or photo sharing site (like Flickr) discloses you or your child’s whereabouts to just about any interested party. Note that Twitter also has a geo-tagging feature that is set “off” as default, but might currently be turned “on.”
7. What about Foursquare? Find out if your child has signed up for the popular GPS-based game in which users “check in” to various locations throughout their city via a cell phone app. It may sound like fun, but like geotagging, sites like Foursquare can jeopardize your child’s safety by divulging their location.
8. Review e-commerce safety tips. Your teen may have their own credit card or debit card, so it’s important they know how to stay safe when shopping online. Educate him or her about legitimate e-business seals (like BBB, Verisign or Truste) and the significance of a plural url (https instead of http).
SafetyWeb is the leading service simplifying online safety by helping parents guard their children’s online safety, identity and reputation. The service monitors the web to deliver reports and immediate alerts on irregularities and dangers associated with kids’ and teens’ online activity. Because SafetyWeb acts as an online guardian angel, they arm parents with information to determine acceptable and healthy online behavior. The company was founded by Michael Clark and Geoffrey Arone, who have worked on web sites that combined, serviced over 200 million register users. For more information on online safety made simple, visit: www.SafetyWeb.com.
About the author:Tammy Blythe Goodman is a New York City-based writer/editor with experience creating content for multiple platforms including film, radio, print, online and mobile. In addition to frequently contributing to SafetyWeb, she has also developed content for Associated Content, Sony Corporation, Fox Interactive, PartnerPeople, CyberRead, Aleratec, and InBlaze Entertainment. Tammy has also written several award-winning mobile video games for Gameloft, an international video game developer and publisher of downloadable games.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications: Visual Media and Literature: Cinema Studies from American University as well as a Masters of Fine Arts degree in Film from Columbia University.